Campus Update: Preparing for a return to campus

As I prepare for another quick Zoom visit, this time to Professor Jeremy Duff’s class on the presidency, I have been thinking of how different higher education leadership has become in these last three months. While we have always answered to a wide range of stakeholders, I have yet to report to as many as now. Two simple cases in point: our offices of business and financial aid have struggled for weeks to get the requirements clarified for as many MSU students as possible to receive CARES support. It was important to get it right not only for our students’ sake but also for our own accountability to this federal funding source. And though we would like to set our own schedule around when and how to reopen campus, we must look to local, state, national, and even international sources of information to determine best steps in that regard.

So if we get out ahead of or lag behind one of our MSU stakeholder group’s need for information, we ask for your understanding. We may be trying to present updates that faculty or students have asked for and then catch our staff unaware, or the other way around. We will continue to share our messages based on the timing of particular audiences, and this week, it is primarily our staff and faculty I would like to address.

First and foremost thank you for continuing to provide teaching and services so needed by our students under these trying circumstances. We know you have many hurdles and distractions in your work and private lives, and we appreciate how you have kept us going strong for all Mustangs. I have heard of your efforts through so many channels and your actions make us all very proud.

I have also heard your concerns regarding the return to campus, your employment status, and how existing job descriptions may need to change. While we do face uncertain times ahead financially, I have asked the Budget Oversight Committee (BOC) to keep true to two goals in their heightened responsibility to provide us guidance on possible reductions. First, to safeguard our resources to provide the highest possible level of service and teaching to our students. And second, to protect the livelihoods of our current workforce. In this letter, drafted with help from the BOC, are the next steps in our budget process. I hope the points clarified there give us all a greater sense of security and belonging to the MSU community in the coming days.

Finally, we are ready to develop a detailed plan for returning to campus that will illustrate a phased approach over the summer and into the fall. I have asked Provost James Johnston and Vice President Keith Lamb to chair this task force and provide me with a plan that can continually be modified while still laying out a proposed timeline with action steps. While the full report may not be completed for several weeks, I can say that our next important step is in expanding our list of essential employees who can return to campus as Governor Abbott informs us on May 18 of his plans to further open the State. Those staff eligible to return to work on campus will be notified by their supervisors, who will discuss with them how and when their assignments will be carried out, whether fully on campus or still partially remotely. It is likely that, if conditions continue to improve across the state, a second expansion of staff on campus will be completed in early June with a third and final expansion by mid-June. As the task force and President’s Cabinet determine guidelines for each major step in the return to campus process, the campus community will be notified. Please take time to read the announcement link above. As soon as members have accepted their invitation to join the taskforce, the link will be updated with their names so you know whom you may contact with questions or concerns.

For now, I wish you all well and thank you for your continued commitment to our students, to each other, and to MSU Texas.

Suzanne Shipley
President


Frequently Asked Questions

Information for Students

Has commencement been postponed?

Based on information we are receiving daily, it is unlikely for the rapid rollout of gatherings of large groups. The University will not be able to proceed with the August 1 ceremony as previously planned. 

Our team is working on a plan for a virtual commencement ceremony in May. Additionally, our May 2020 graduates will be invited to participate in a separate ceremony in December.

Will refunds be issued for housing and dining?

The University will begin issuing refunds to impacted students with housing and dining plans beginning the week of April 20. The refunds will be prorated from March 23. This is a shift from the earlier announcement of applying credits to the upcoming fall term.

For those students with an account balance, the housing and dining refund will be applied toward that balance, and any remaining funds will be issued as a payment to the student.

For faster refunds, we encourage you to sign up for direct deposit through Touchnet located on the myMSUTexas portal.

What's the status of housing?

For the remainder of the spring semester and for the Summer I session, limited access housing is available to residents meeting one of the following conditions:

  • Student is independent;
  • Student is part of the foster care system or has aged-out of the foster care system;
  • Student does not have a permanent residence;
  • Returning home would present a health and safety threat to the student;
  • Student's permanent residence is outside of the United States and they are unable to travel home; or,
  • Student is participating in internships, practicums, clinicals, or student teaching that continues.

If not already approved to stay on campus, students meeting one of these conditions who need limited access housing should complete the limited access housing form. A decision regarding Summer II housing will be finalized at a later date.

More information may be found at summer housing webpage.  

Will dining services be available?

We continue to provide food services to a limited number of students for whom it is necessary. 

Will Mustangs Route and MESA still provide service?

The Mustangs Route will observe is regular summer schedule as follows:

  • May 15, 2020: 1 bus, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • May 18-22, 2020: No service
  • May 25, 2020: Memorial Day, no service
  • May 26-29, 2020: 1 bus, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • June 1-August 6, 2020: 1 bus, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. (Monday-Thursday, no bus on Fridays)

Do student employees continue working while courses are online?

Student employees should consult with their supervisors regarding work schedules.

Will campus activities be canceled or delayed?

Student organization meetings and events, recreational sports, and student activities will be canceled or delayed until MSU returns to face-to-face instruction. MSU Texas has announced classes will remain online or remote through Summer II 2020.

How will courses be delivered?

All classes will remain in online/remote format through the duration of the spring semester and for the both summer terms. We will continue working through Deans and Department Chairs to coordinate this effort and consider changes to the summer schedules to accommodate this decision. There will be unique challenges in certain courses, such as those leading to professional licensures. Our faculty will work to make sure students meet the criteria of those degree plans and are adequately prepared for licensure exams. We are working with accrediting bodies for these programs to ensure proper substitutes are implemented.

What about returning rentals to bookstore?

All students who are renting books will have a free FedEx shipping label to return their books. They will receive four email reminders, which start around two weeks before the return date, and there will be a link for a printable label. All they need to do is drop it at a FedEx location. If they have any further questions, they can contact us at the bookstore by calling 940-397-4303.

What about drops or withdrawals?

In an effort to assist students and faculty in determining best options for the unusual circumstances experienced this semester, the administration has determined that an additional extension of the deadlines will occur as follows:

  1. The deadline to drop a course, or withdraw from the university for the regular spring (16 week) semester with a grade of “W” has been extended to May 1.
  2. The deadline to drop a course or withdraw if only enrolled in part of term B (second 8 weeks) of the semester with a grade of “W” has been extended to May 8.

Students are encouraged to work with their instructors and advisors to determine the best course of action.

Is the Clark Student Center open?

The Clark Student Center is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The computer lab is open during these same hours. The recreation room is closed. The Mesquite Dining Hall is open daily and serving take-out to students with a meal plan daily from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.

Is Moffett Library still open?

Moffett Library is now open following the guidance provided in Gov. Abbott's executive order.

Enhanced health protocols include regularly and frequently cleaning and disinfecting any regularly touched surfaces, disinfecting any items that come into contact with visitors, and making hand sanitizer stations readily available to employees and visitors. In addition, librarians will wear masks, wash or sanitize hands upon entering the library and between interactions with visitors, and will maintain proper social distancing.

MSU Texas students and faculty may continue to receive virtual services and resources via the Library’s homepage, which will also provide further details about circulation policies and additional service adjustments.

Access to Online Resources

Electronic library resources are accessible at https://msutexas.edu/library/research.php.

Online Hours

Online chat is available Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday 2 p.m.-9 p.m.

Returning Books

Library materials may be returned to our drop boxes, located at the front and side (facing Hardin) of the building. 

There will be no fines through May 15, 2020, excluding media items.

Renewing Books

If you need to renew an item you can do so by logging into your Library Account through the MSU Portal.

Contact Us

We are here to help! Find us online or email us at library@msutexas.edu with additional questions.

Is the Wellness Center open?

In accordance with Gov. Abbot’s executive order, the Redwine Student Wellness Center will remain closed through May 17, at which point we will reassess resuming operations. Additionally, all athletic and recreational fields are closed through the same time period.

Is Vinson Health Center open?

The Vinson Health Center will transition to summer hours of operation beginning May 18, 2020.

May 18-May 29, 2020
7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

June 1-July 23, 2020
7:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Monday-Thursday

July 27-August 14, 2020
7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

Students are asked to call the health center for an appointment or for guidance with individual health needs. 

Is the Counseling Center open?

The Counseling Center remains open with counselors working remotely to help students. Therapy sessions are conducted through the Therapy Assist Online (TAO) video conferencing platform. Whether they are at home or on-campus, students campus can have a video or telephone session with a counselor using the platform. Appointments are available Monday through Friday, 8am–5pm. Please call 940-397-4618 to schedule an appointment. 

A number of free online mental health resources are available through the Counseling Center website. Additional online resources include:

Students may also access TAO Connect, a free online self-help resource on general well-being, calming your worry, improving your mood, pain management, and other useful topics. Students can access TAO Connect through the Counseling Center website.

Information for the MSU Texas Community

Working Remotely

The health and well-being of our campus remains our highest priority, and the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding this pandemic are a significant challenge that we are taking very seriously.

On March 30, MSU moved to essential services only for campus operations. Specific offices remain open to ensure the continuity of our operations. Most employees are working remotely.

Working Remotely Resources are available on the MSU Texas Human Resources webpage. Additionally, Information Technology has provided an Online Transition Resources page for members of the campus community.

What preventative actions can the campus community take at this time?

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid sharing food, beverages, and utensils. Avoid close contact with those who may be ill; stay at least six feet away. Stay home when you are sick or have flu symptoms. Cover cough/sneeze with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your elbow. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces. Get your annual flu shot.

What should I do if I feel ill?

  • If you are feeling ill and need to be seen, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Students can make an appointment at Vinson Health Center by calling (940) 397-4231.
  • Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other healthcare facility without calling first. Your provider may need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic.
  • Telemedicine may also be available through your insurance, enabling you to consult a provider from home. Check with your health insurance provider. If you are a student enrolled in the MSU Academic Healthplans Student Health Insurance, HealthiestYou telemedicine is available for you.
  • Do not go to an emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
  • Practice social distancing. Stay indoors and avoid contact with others, just as you would with the flu. Those with contagious diseases should stay home from work or school until they are well. People with fever, cough and respiratory issues should seek medical attention.

What happens if there is a confirmed case on campus?

If a COVID-19 virus is confirmed, then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols will be followed. Those who have had close contact with the patient will be contacted and monitored by the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Public Health District. Midwestern State University will fully support that effort.

University Response

What is MSU Texas doing?

MSU Texas has activated its Incident Management Team made up of individuals in leadership positions from across campus. The IM Team meets regularly to discuss and review the rapidly evolving situation regarding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The team is coordinating preparedness and response activities as outlined in the University’s emergency operations plan. Members of team are closely monitoring the situation, utilizing information from local and state health officials as well as the Centers for Disease and Preparedness and the World Health Organization.

The University is also participating on a community-wide COVID-19 task force, coordinated by the Health Department, which consists of key physicians and staff who meet regularly to coordinate communications and ensure proper training and protocols are in place.

A return-to-campus task force has been established to prepare for our intended return to in-person operations this fall.

The University will continue to address questions and concerns through regular communication and additions to this page.

What is the campus doing for infection control?

The University is working diligently to ensure the safety of the campus community, including additional distribution and placement of hand sanitizer stations, enhanced cleaning procedures in common areas, and an awareness campaign of the importance of hand washing and staying home when ill.

What is being done in the residence halls to prevent any spread of COVID-19?

Residence Life is taking enhanced steps to reduce exposure within each of the MSU Texas residential facilities. These efforts include:

  • Increasing frequency of surface cleaning; specifically, handrails, elevator buttons and door handles are being disinfected regularly.
  • Providing additional hand sanitizer stations in public spaces, as long with supplemental education information.
  • Ensuring that Residence Life staff knows where to direct students with concerns about coronavirus.
Travel Guidance

International Travel

MSU Texas is suspending all university-sponsored and/or sanctioned international travel to countries for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Travel Warning. 

As of March 13, all countries are categorized in the CDC’s Travel Health Notices for COVID-19.

All faculty, staff, and students are strongly advised against travel to help mitigate the spread of the virus. For those who do travel internationally, they are required to register with the University either leaving or immediately upon return using our Travel Reporting Form.

Please note that if travel was to a country classified as Level 2 or Level 3 by the CDC, travelers will be required to report and self-isolate for 14 days. This includes not returning to on-campus housing.

For those who have travel scheduled in the next 3-6 months to these countries or nearby regions, please consult with the appropriate vice president for your division/department.

How do I report my recent travel?

Faculty, staff, and students who travel – whether for personal or university business – to or through the countries designated as Level 2 or Level 3 by the CDC are required to submit a Travel Reporting Form before leaving or immediately upon return. 

Travelers returning from countries outside of the U.S. will be required to self-isolate off campus for 14 days before returning to campus. This includes not returning to on-campus housing.

What should you do when traveling?

MSU Texas encourages those traveling to be mindful of the possible effects. Please stay aware of destinations that have confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and noted travel restrictions to countries around the world. Please monitor regularly as information may change daily regarding locations reporting COVID-19 cases. The University strongly discourages personal travel to any country that is classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a Level 2 or Level 3 Travel Health Advisory.

Faculty, staff, and students are asked to register with the University regarding international travel before leaving or immediately upon return using our Voluntary Travel Reporting Form.

Please note that if travel was to a country classified as Level 2 or Level 3 by the CDC, travelers will be required to report and self-isolate for 14 days. This includes not returning to on-campus housing.

As a reminder the University has suspended all university-sponsored and/or sanctioned travel for which the CDC as has issued a Level 2 or Level 3 Travel Health Notice.

Is Study Abroad canceled?

All Study Abroad programs for summer 2020 have been canceled. If you are registered for a summer Study Abroad program, you should have been contacted by the Global Education Office. If not, please contact the office directly. The University looks forward to providing outstanding Study Abroad opportunities to our students after summer 2020.