In an effort to consolidate information and guidance from the state of Texas and The Texas A&M University System, we will continue sharing these email communications on an as-needed basis. The latest directives from Texas A&M AgriLife are as follows:
Flexible Hiring Freeze
Given the short- and long-term uncertainties and impact of COVID-19 on the state economy, we must make every effort to conserve resources that can be called on should the need arise. In the direction of The Texas A&M University System, Texas A&M AgriLife will immediately implement a flexible hiring freeze for positions paid all or a portion from appropriated funds.
- Current requisitions for positions paid from appropriated sources will need to be reviewed by executive leadership to allow time for conversations with hiring supervisors about their needs.
- Requisitions for positions paid from appropriated sources and deemed essential by executive leadership will continue to be posted so that recruiting can continue. All others will be canceled, and recruiting will be deferred.
- For positions paid on appropriated sources, requests to fill currently posted requisitions and to post new requisitions will require approval.
- Written offers of employment made on or before March 24 require no further approvals.
You may view additional guidelines on the flexible hiring freeze on our website for guidance going forward.
Attorney General Guidance to State Agencies
Please take time to read this letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which explains that state government offices and agencies should remain fully operational during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. Per the letter, state agencies and government offices are essential to the public, and local governments under shelter-in-place orders may not restrict the ability of these organizations from providing essential governmental services, including travel to and from their places of employment. Please note that this does not change previous guidance provided on staffing. Only essential personnel should come to the workplace with most, if not all, employees working via alternate work location or remote work.
Social Distancing and Cleaning Protocols for Research
The Texas A&M System has stated that research can continue under the local shelter-in-place order as an essential business function with appropriate precautions. In addition to social distancing protocols, each laboratory should be carrying out the following cleaning protocols:
- All touchpoint areas should be disinfected every morning that people are in the lab. These areas include, but are not limited to the following: tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, knobs, desks, and push plates. If there are multiple people in the area, cleaning more than once a day is recommended.
- Each person should clean and disinfect their personal items including phone, keyboard, mouse, monitor, computer, and desk.
- Cleaning should be carried out using EPA rated virucides. These cleansers can be obtained by contacting Ted.Dawson@sscserv.com with a cc to firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional guidance can be found on the VPR website.
The University has now determined there will be no live proctoring service available this semester. Faculty must use alternative assessment methods to evaluate student learning outcomes. Some options are provided at keepteaching.tamu.edu. Our college’s digital education experts have also curated a list of resources describing alternative assessments, which is available in the FAQ at https://aglifesciences.tamu.edu/covid19/.
Additionally, as a reminder, when creating alternative forms of assessment or for lab courses, faculty cannot pass expenses onto students. Students cannot be required to buy supplies to complete courses.
Summer 2020 Courses
While the future remains uncertain, the Provost has begun making decisions regarding Summer 2020 courses. Please review a snapshot of the Provost’s message below, or view her full message online.
- Online Delivery for courses that begin prior to June 30: All summer courses that begin prior to June 30 will be delivered online. This includes the May intersession (“minimester”) courses, summer first term courses, and the 10-week summer courses.
- Waiving Distance Education Differential Tuition: In an effort to help students, distance education differential tuition will not be charged for online courses this summer (summer 1, summer 2, 10 week, or other variations) at an individual course level. For distance education degree programs with a program fee, there is no change in how they will be charged.
- On-Campus Plan for Summer 2: Colleges should plan for an on-campus component in summer 2 with course start dates on or after June 30 with a back-up plan for online delivery, depending on the length of the current situation.
- Registration Dates: Registration begins on March 30 for students in the School of Law and for all other students beginning Thursday, April 2. Registration will continue as scheduled.
- Commencement ceremonies: Commencement ceremonies postponed from May will be rescheduled and announced at a later date. Summer Commencement remains August 7-8 (assuming circumstances allow).
Thank you for your continued cooperation as we work through these issues.
Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife
Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Research