Wednesday, April 29, 2020 - Flexibility and Creativity to Shape our Future

Members of A&M-San Antonio Community:

Our campus continues to exhibit the flexibility and creativity that allowed us to successfully transform the spring 2020 term. As state and local officials initiate efforts to ease COVID-19-related restrictions, the A&M System is also considering various scenarios and operational plans for the fall 2020 semester—certainly, with conditions and caveats we could not have imagined possible prior to this pandemic.

I continue to be confident in the capability of our campus leaders to navigate a still uncertain future, while protecting the health and safety of the university community. My continued discussions with various governance groups keep me informed about matters of importance to our university community and will likewise inform our plans for reopening. The campus community has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to improvise and that will serve us well as we rise to meet the challenges ahead of us.

Today, in an effort to help us be as fully prepared for the future as possible, I am launching two efforts to address planning and preparedness for a gradual return to on-site operations and for a fall semester for which we have no precedent:

  • Campus Reopening Task Force: This short-term task force will consist of a subset of the COVID-19 Risk Management Group and include other subject matter experts and functional area and governance group representatives. In accordance with A&M System guidance and consistent with the Governor’s directive of April 27, 2020, A&M-San Antonio will reopen to on-site staff work in three phases, beginning May 18. The task force will advise on our reopening plan and deliver its recommendations to the Office of the President by May 8. As we plan and prepare for a gradual return to on-site operations for staff, we will remain in operation with essential personnel only on campus through May 15; guidance about phase one of the reopening will be provided after the task force completes its work and prior to May 15.
  • Blueprint 2020: Preparing for Fall – A safe and healthy campus: Blueprint 2020 is an initiative led by the Division Vice Presidents to develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan to safely return to in-person delivery of academic programs and student support services in fall. Convened by the vice presidents, four subcommittees will inform the plans for meeting the instructional and operational challenges for fall 2020, with an emphasis on protecting the health and safety of the campus community and supporting students’ academic success. The group is also charged with contingency planning, to prepare for the possibility that public health conditions may limit our ability for in-person delivery of courses. I anticipate receiving recommendations from this group in late May and announcing tentative fall plans in June.

You can expect your divisional vice president to schedule a Q&A session to address your questions and concerns about the efforts outlined above.

One unfortunate certainty during this time is the impact of COVID-19 on the fiscal health of businesses and organizations—and higher education is in no way immune. As we strive to provide the best academic experience possible for our students during this challenging time, we must also prepare for the realities of the fiscal impact of COVID-19. Last week, I met with the University Resources Commission and shared preliminary information about our FY20 and FY21 budget scenarios, as well as several necessary fiscal strategies already implemented to mitigate the budget shortfall that may result from the pandemic’s likely impact on the economy and on enrollment.

We know that COVID-19 and its impact will remain with us for the foreseeable future. Our campus will continue to adapt to maintain the health of our students, faculty, and staff. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now, that I know better, I do better.” While none of us would have asked for the lessons learned by experiencing a global pandemic, I am confident that we will be stronger and better as a result of our collective efforts in the face of daunting circumstances. As always, I welcome your suggestions and insights; please do not hesitate to reach out. 

Stay well,
Cynthia Teniente-Matson
President

Previous Messages


Dear Jaguar Staff,

Thank you for your continued patience as we worked to identify the full range of options we can offer you for managing your academic work this semester. Earlier this week, we informed you of the changes in the drop policy for the spring 2020 semester resulting from changing to a fully online learning environment. Today, we are able to announce the following changes to our grading policy for the spring 2020 semester, which we hope will help you manage your academic progress.

Please note that because this is a complex matter of academic policy, this is a lengthy and detailed message; be sure to read it carefully.

We have received many questions about introducing a pass/fail option. While a pass/fail option is not a designation that exists within A&M-San Antonio’s academic policies, a credit/no credit option does exist. For the spring 2020 semester:

  • Students may choose to be graded as credit/no credit (CR/NC) or to retain the course’s current grading mode (A, B, C, D or F).
  • For the spring 2020 term, grades of CR and NC are defined as:
    • CR = Credit, equivalent to C or higher (credits count toward degree)
    • NC = No Credit, equivalent to D or F (credits do not count toward degree)
  • Courses graded credit/no credit will satisfy degree requirements, provided a grade of CR (C or higher) is earned, but will not be calculated in the GPA.
  • To help students determine if the credit/no credit option is right for them, midterm grade rosters will remain open for faculty to enter midterm grades until 5 p.m. Monday, April 6, 2020.
  • Students may check their midterm grades by following these steps:
    • Step 1 – Log into your Jagwire account
    • Step 2 – Select “Classes & Registration”
    • Step 3 – Select “My Personal Information”
    • Step 4 – Select “Midterm Grades”
  • Starting April 15, 2020, students will be able to select the credit/no credit option on a course-by-course basis for the spring 2020 semester. A link and instructions will be sent to your Jaguar email on April 15, 2020.
  • Students must make their decisions to be graded credit/no credit in a course by 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
  • Once the decision is made for a course to be graded credit/no credit, the grade may not be changed.
  • Students should consult with their academic advisors about how switching to credit/no credit could impact their progress to graduation, eligibility for professional licensure or admission to graduate programs in the future.
  • Any student who receives grades of NC in all courses for the spring 2020 term will be required to meet with an academic success coach.
  • Students with an academic standing of Academic Probation or Academic Warning who choose the CR/NC option for their classes may remain on academic probation or academic warning. Please discuss with your academic advisor.
  • Semester honors (Dean’s List and President’s List) for the spring 2020 semester are being suspended.
  • A statement will be added to all A&M-San Antonio transcripts that explains this temporary change to grading for spring 2020.

We cannot stress enough how important it is that you be guided by an academic advisor in your decision-making about which option best meets your academic needs. Though the changes to the spring 2020 semester have presented challenges for students, faculty and staff, please know that Texas A&M University-San Antonio remains committed to your academic success. We hope this amendment to the grading policy provides you with the flexibility you need in order to more comfortably proceed with your education during this challenging time.


Today, the difficult decision was made to postpone the spring 2020 Commencement ceremony, initially scheduled for May 15. We are identifying options to hold the ceremony in late September - and expect to be able to announce the new date very soon.

Commencement and associated events are extraordinarily important moments for students and their families - and particularly gratifying for you, the faculty and staff who supported these graduates throughout their academic journeys. While it is disappointing we will not be able to hold our ceremony on the original date, our guiding concern at this time must be to be protect the health and safety of both our campus community and the larger communities of which we are a part.

Students have been notified of the postponement. Understandably, many of our impending graduates and their families are deeply disappointed by this news. In your interactions with students during this challenging time, your support and encouragement of them will go a long way.

As you may know, among our spring 2020 graduates will be many members of our first four-year cohort of students.We look forward to celebrating this academic accomplishment along with all graduates of the Class of 2020 and with you in the fall.

For more information on the impact of COVID-19 on the A&M-San Antonio community, visit tamusa.edu/coronavirus/.


Dear Colleagues:

As part of our ongoing efforts to keep you apprised of the latest developments that affect our campus related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we write to share two important updates.

Instruction - Yesterday, a decision was made to deliver ALL courses online for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. This decision was not made lightly and reflects the abundance of caution we are taking to protect the health and safety of the campus community. Students have been notified of this decision - and while the transition was necessary to help ensure our campus community's health and safety, students may have some anxiety about the transition to online learning. We ask all employees who interact directly with students to please be patient, flexible and supportive during this challenging time.

Travel - We also want to inform you of a very important new policy development related to travel. If you have recently traveled internationally to any country at all, you must NOT come to campus for 14 days following the date of your return to the United States. It is recommended that you self-monitor during this time and follow CDC guidance for recognizing symptoms and when to be tested. Please use the  Travel Self-Report form to report your travel, and the University's Risk Management team will reach out to you with further instructions.

Additionally, if you returned from international travel on or after March 14 and cleared customs through one of the 13 U.S. airports through which travelers returning from Europe and any Level 3 risk countries are being routed, please consider yourself as having returned from a Level 3 COVID-19 location and self-isolate for 14 days after your arrival before returning to campus. (Self-isolation guidance can be found in the  CDC Care Guide.) Those airports are Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA), New York City (JFK), Chicago (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta (ATL), Honolulu (HNL), Newark (EWR), Dallas (DFW), Detroit (DTW) and Washington, D.C. (IAD).

  • If you have questions about interpreting this policy or how it applies to you, please contact the campus Risk Manager, Rita Sue Arredondo, at Rita.Arredondo@tamusa.edu.
  • You may recall a previous request that all recent and upcoming travel (through May 9) be reported through the Travel Self-Report form. This is a very important step in our ability to monitor any risk to the campus community, so even if the above policy does not apply to your travel, please do report any travel via the form.

Finally, we have received many questions about the possibility of remote work. While campus remains open and employees are expected to report to work as scheduled, we understand that some of you may face challenges related to childcare or other obligations, may need to self-isolate (but are not ill) or may be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 due to age, underlying health conditions or other factors. Please consult directly with your supervisor to determine what options are available to you. The management team has been encouraged to be flexible and responsive to employee needs and has been equipped with all of the information needed to evaluate and process requests.

Thank you for your continued cooperation as we respond to the dynamically changing circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of the campus community remain our highest priority. We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

Stay well,

Risk Management/CPVID-19 Working Group
Rita Sue Arredondo 
Risk & Compliance Coordinator
rita.arredondo@tamusa.edu


Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I write today with an important update as the University continues to prepare for the possibility of our community being directly affected by the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). During the past several weeks, the University’s leadership team and a dedicated Risk Management Group have been hard at work to promote a healthy environment at A&M-San Antonio. While we are not able to know with certainty if or when our campus might be affected by COVID-19, we are taking additional steps to ensure our readiness to maintain the health and safety of our campus community and the academic progress of our students. 

While current conditions do not indicate a need for campus closure, it is critically important that we be ready for that possibility. To that end, we are extending Spring Break for students through the week of March 16 and suspending all course delivery during that time.

The purpose of this suspension of classes is to ensure that our faculty and staff are fully prepared to effectively transition to online course delivery and remote operations. It is of the utmost importance that we continue to provide the best academic experience possible for students during this time of uncertainty, and this dedicated preparation time is key to fulfilling that obligation.

For the week of Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20:

  • All classes are suspended to allow faculty and staff time to prepare for remote instruction readiness and operational continuity.

  • Campus will remain open for normal business operations.

  • All student and academic support services will continue to operate, including the Library, Dining Hall, Student Wellness and Counseling Center, Parking, Bursar and Business Services.

  • Esperanza Hall will resume normal operations Sunday, March 15, for our student residents who need to return to campus.

  • All faculty, staff and student employees should return to campus under their normal schedules.

Courses will resume on Monday, March 23 via online/alternative delivery – we will evaluate weekly to determine whether to resume in-person classes. Students will receive information directly from their instructors regarding the adaptation to remote learning, after faculty have had the opportunity to finalize plans.

In addition to the measures previously communicated, we are also limiting large gatherings (50+) on campus, limiting University-sponsored travel and preparing staff for the possibility of remote operations. Guidance has been provided to management staff regarding procedures for granting leave and/or remote work approval, technological tools for enabling remote work and consideration of travel requests.

For employees, your supervisor is a great source of information about concerns or questions you may have, and the most updated and comprehensive information about all of the measures we are taking to ensure readiness can be found on our website at tamusa.edu/coronavirus/.

We anticipate that there is a growing concern among our campus as media reports and social media threads ramp up on various university closures, canceled events and talk of social distancing in our region and throughout the nation due to the spread of COVID-19. We also understand you may continue to have questions regarding the University’s readiness for managing a campus closure, should the need arise. We encourage you to use tamusa.edu/coronavirus/ as the official source of information, read your emails and follow the guidance of managers and instructors. You can also submit questions on the site at “Ask a Question.”

Our primary goals remain 1) the health and safety of our University community, 2) accurately informing our students and employees as best as we can in this dynamic, evolving situation and 3) preparing managers and staff with comprehensive information and protocols. Should risk of COVID-19 warrant University closure in the future, we will communicate that to the campus community and will be fully prepared to engage in remote operations.

My deepest appreciation to our staff and faculty who continue to work on keeping us informed and prepared for this ever-evolving situation. You will receive follow-up messages in the coming days, as we prepare to make the best use of our preparation week and as plans continue to develop.

With appreciation,

Cynthia Teniente-Matson
President

As we continue to actively monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we wanted to remind you of the current guidance and resources the University has implemented to help maintain the safety and wellness of our campus community.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases in San Antonio and our campus remains at low risk.      

The Risk Management Group/COVID-19 Working Group is working across the institution to be as prepared as possible in the event the virus spreads locally and directly affects our campus. The team meets daily and is developing specific response plans for an elevated risk level, including alternative work locations/plans for employees and options for course delivery, should campus be closed at some point in the future. Any change in risk level for our campus will be communicated, as will clear guidance in the event of campus closure.

We will continue to share the latest updates regarding any changes to University guidance or protocols related to COVID-19, and we encourage you to rely on the University's official communications channels to include:

We encourage you to continue to follow and to share the health guidelines recommended by the CDC to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19 and other similarly transmitted illnesses. If you believe you were exposed to COVID-19 or develop symptoms, the CDC advises that you immediately contact your primary care physician and call before making an office visit so that adequate precautions can be put in place.

Finally, the Texas A&M University System has directed its campuses to discourage all foreign travel for faculty, staff and students. The System also has directed all faculty, staff and students to report any recent international travel (personal or professional) to Level 1 or higher-risk countries. Additionally, we would appreciate your voluntary self-report of any planned personal international travel or any domestic travel to states in which there are known instances of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus. You can report recent or planned travel on the self-reporting travel form.

We appreciate your continued cooperation as we work together to maintain the health of our campus community and navigate through the Novel Coronavirus. We will continue to update you as we monitor the situation.

Sincerely,

Risk Management/COVID-19 Working Group
Rita Sue Arredondo 
Risk & Compliance Coordinator
rita.arredondo@tamusa.edu


As the uncertainty of the rapidly changing Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation continues, we wanted to share several developments as well as provide additional information on precautions the University is implementing to ensure the health and safety of our campus community.

We understand the continued spread of the virus is generating concern and uncertainty for many. At this time, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our campus community, which means we are at low risk of contracting the virus.

However, we continue to actively monitor official state and local health guidance and protocols on all medical issues, and to implement precautions to help ensure the safety of all who study, work, visit and live here. Infographic posters are being placed in restrooms and classrooms across campus that provide information on how to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19.

We encourage you to visit the A&M-San Antonio Coronavirus website, which provides guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Texas Department of Health, a Q&A and latest updates from the University, including:

Please note that the CDC and A&M System have provided guidance on professional and personal travel during COVID-19, which may impact faculty, staff and students. The following site provides these details: https://www.tamus.edu/texas-am-system-delivers-guidance-on-covid-19/

Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we continue to make decisions and develop actions to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and others in a constantly evolving situation.


The health and wellness of our University community is a priority. While the current exposure risk to the coronavirus is limited, the following provides important tips and precautions from state, national and international health organizations to help minimize the spread of illness.

The University is actively monitoring the situation with guidance from public health experts and A&M System health authorities. The following resources provide information on the virus and ways to limit exposure:

Healthy hygiene to prevent the spread of viruses
Hygiene habits make a difference. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides a list to help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. The list includes:

  • Cover your cough, and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards and phones, to help remove germs.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs and disposable wipes.
  • If you begin to feel sick while on campus, notify your supervisor or instructor and go home as soon as possible.

If you are seeking medical care, there are a number of resources and clinics in San Antonio and the surrounding area. If you are experiencing an emergency, please immediately call 911.

Mari Fuentes-Martin, Ed.D.
Vice President of Student Success & Engagement

Martha Gonzalez
Chief Human Resources Officer