Coronavirus Update: March 12, 2020

Thursday, March 12, a message was sent out from the office of President Lori Rice-Spearman, and relayed to the public through a press conference held by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). The message shared updated policy information for students, faculty, staff and the TTUHSC community as a response to the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

University officials have been closely following events and public health recommendations surrounding the outbreak and spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, the university has been planning and preparing for the possibility of transitioning to an online teaching and learning environment to help manage the potential spread of COVID-19. All efforts are aimed at placing a high priority on the safety and wellbeing of the TTUHSC community.

Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any TTUHSC campus at this time, there may be members of the TTUHSC community traveling in the coming weeks.

As a precaution, university leadership has made the following decisions for all TTUHSC campuses and affiliated locations:

Academic Classes

  • All on-campus academic classes are suspended beginning March 16 through March 27. Distance learning will not be interrupted.
  • Starting March 30, on-campus academic classes will resume via online instruction wherever possible until otherwise directed.
  • Deans or their designee will provide additional instruction for faculty and students about this transition as it pertains to their programs.

Clinical Instruction

  • At this time, clinical experiences will not be delayed and will continue as scheduled.
  • For clinical experiences, we will follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as each program’s accrediting body.
  • With respect to direct care of patients who are known or suspected to be infected with coronavirus, COVID-19, students will not be involved. Patient care team leaders are responsible for determining the level of involvement for nonessential personnel.
  • Should there be an impact on students, they will be informed of alternative opportunities and locations to continue their clinical instruction. Students are advised to contact their respective program directors to confirm their requirements and options.

Faculty and Staff

  • Outside of on-campus academic course instruction, all university operations will continue as scheduled for all faculty and staff unless otherwise directed by your respective Vice President, Dean or Provost.
  • Faculty and staff are encouraged to practice social distancing and cough etiquette, as well as follow CDC recommendations for handwashing and the use of disinfectant on frequently touched surfaces.
  • The leadership team is continuing to monitor the day-to-day impact on the university operations and will re-evaluate as this continues to evolve, including telecommuting options.

Clinical Operations

All university clinical operations will continue as scheduled unless otherwise directed by your respective Vice President or Dean. We will adhere to our ambulatory clinic policies, direction from local health authorities and guidance from the CDC in addressing any COVID-19 related cases.

University Sponsored Events

At this time, university-sponsored events and large campus gatherings are highly discouraged. Effective immediately through April 30, these events need to be reviewed by your respective Vice President, Dean or Provost to determine whether they are considered mission-critical to the university.

Travel

As previously communicated: 

  • All university-related international travel by TTUHSC students, faculty and staff is suspended through April 30.
  • University-related domestic travel is highly discouraged at the present time. All TTUHSC students, faculty and staff travel requests for university-related domestic travel need to be reviewed by your respective Vice President, Dean or Provost prior to approval through April 30.
  • We encourage you to evaluate your personal travel plans regarding both domestic and international destinations. Please carefully consider the avoidance of places identified with a travel health warning notice by the CDC and be aware of the possibility to alter your plans as the spread of COVID-19 continues to develop.

Personal International Travel

Students, faculty and staff who travel outside of the United States are required to register with the university before leaving or immediately upon return of a trip, using this travel form. If the travel was to a country identified by the CDC with a travel health notice warning of Level 3, travelers will be required to self-isolate off campus for 14 days before returning to campus.

Personal Domestic Travel

To assist us in providing support to students, faculty and staff who travel within the United States and to ensure that we can adhere to appropriate screening before your return to work and school, please fill out thetravel form on our website to identify your travel plans. Because of the unusual nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be required to self-isolate off campus as recommended by the CDC.

Resources

TTUHSC’s COVID-19 webpage will continue to be the primary source of information and updates related to university operations. Please continue to visit the website for ongoing updates as well as resources that may be available to you.

“We will continue to operate and deliver the highest-quality education, health care services and research possible under these guidelines,” assures President Rice-Spearman, who encourages everyone within TTUHSC’s community to perform necessary preventative measures and, as always, continue caring for yourself and others around you.

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