Lately, we’ve all been bombarded with communication about COVID-19 from SMU, Dallas County, the State of Texas, and the CDC. With classes starting on Monday following the SMU-Flex program, it can be a little confusing to know what to do and what not to do on and off-campus. So, let us help you out! This COVID guidelines guide will help keep you and others safe so we can keep in-person classes going for as long as possible!

None of us wants anyone to get in your trouble or spread COVID, so please pay attention to the following information from SMU, Dallas County, the State of Texas, and the CDC.

SMU COVID Guidelines

Keep Myself Safe

  • Daily self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek medical attention should symptoms develop.
  • Wear a facial covering when in any indoor space, including the classroom, or anywhere on campus—including public areas of residential facilities or outdoor spaces— where social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Wash my hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds.
  • Maintain appropriate (6 feet) physical distance from others whenever possible.
  • Make an effort to stay up-to-date on all vaccines, including the flu vaccine.

Keep Others Safe

  • Wear a facial covering when in any indoor space, including the classroom, or anywhere on campus where social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Stay at home if I feel ill or am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days if directly exposed to COVID-19.
  • Seek personal COVID-19 testing if exposed or symptomatic.
  • Support contact tracing by reporting to SMU if I contract COVID-19 (information will be kept confidential) and responding to related phone calls and emails.
  • Avoid gathering in large groups (more than 10 people) that may put me and others at risk.
  • Follow procedures and signage posted across campus.
  • Clean shared surfaces when possible, including but not limited to desks and seats in classrooms.
  • Refrain from having personal guests on campus.
  • Limit unnecessary personal travel.
  • SMU is requiring that everyone on the SMU campus wear a facial covering over the mouth and nose in all indoor spaces.
  • This requirement—in accordance with the latest local ordinance—includes classrooms; building entrances and exits; lobbies and lounges; as well as in hallways, stairwells, restrooms, and elevators.
  • Face coverings are not required outdoors, in private spaces such as inside an office or partitioned cubicle for employees, or inside an individual residence hall room for students
  • The CDC does not recommend using face coverings if they have an exhalation valve or vent.
  • Face shields do not offer the equivalent protection of face coverings over the mouth and nose. However, due to the vocal aspects of classroom instruction, a face shield is an acceptable substitute for faculty members to wear while teaching as long as the instructor also adheres to the other required safety standards.
  • SMU has added plexiglass barriers to podiums, provided face shields and coverings, and distanced desks and lecterns to accommodate faculty in conducting their instructional duties. Faculty can also wear a face mask instead or in addition to a face shield, for added protection.
  • If additional accommodations such as a face shield are needed, students should work with SMU’s Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies for available options.
  • SMU strongly encourages the use of multi-ply masks instead of other types of face coverings. Faculty can require students in the classroom to wear face masks versus other types of face coverings.

Events at SMU

In conjunction with the university operations plan for the fall, these guidelines govern event planning for student groups of all types during the 2020-2021 academic year given the COVID-19 pandemic. Student groups recognized by or affiliated with SMU (both formally or informally) must follow these guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all participants. These guidelines govern any activity, event, meeting, gathering, practice, ceremony, etc. planned by an SMU student or student group (formal or informal). This includes both on-campus and off-campus activities. 

Events that intend to invite or anticipate having guests who are external to the SMU community must receive additional approval by completing the form online. Even with event approval, these guidelines must be followed during event planning.

All events planned by student organizations are subject to the following expectations:

  • Follow all CDCState of Texas, and Dallas County guidelines.
  • Practice social distancing – at least 6 feet between participants, even outdoors.
  • All attendees will be required to wear face coverings.
  • Offer a virtual option.
  • Record event attendance through Connect either directly or through uploading a participation list after the event.
  • Outdoor events are preferable to indoor. However, regardless of the event format, these guidelines must be followed.

Additionally, Student Affairs has developed four guidance levels to prescribe more specific expectations, dependent on the current campus climate related to COVID-19. The status levels include: Green (lowest amount of restrictions), Yellow, Orange (medium amount of restrictions), and Red (most restrictions – in-person events not allowed).

Event coordinators should plan for the current restriction level and one level more restrictive in case the level changes prior to the event date. All groups will be held responsible for meeting the event guideline status level expectations according to the guideline status on the date of the event – so plan ahead in case last-minute changes are needed.

Please note, given the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic, the situation is extremely fluid and requirements are subject to change at any time including cancellation of events. It is recommended no financial commitments be made.

Violations

Student leaders have a particular responsibility to plan events that are safe and do not put students at risk for contracting COVID-19. Please note that student organizations that are found responsible for violating the expectations outlined in the Pledge will also be subject to disciplinary action through the SMU Student Code of Conduct. If a student group is alleged to have hosted an unauthorized party/social gathering, on or off campus, they will be placed on an immediate cease and desist (or interim suspension) pending the outcome of the conduct process.

Practicing the general expectations outlined in the Pledge to Protect SMU involves following the event guidelines and will help ensure the appropriate safety measures are in place. It is likely that a student organization will not be able to host any events for the remainder of the semester (and possibly the year) if they violate any of the guidelines outlined in the Pledge and the student organization leaders may also face individual charges through the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Additional information regarding the event guidelines is forthcoming and will be included in MOM training for this year.

Dallas County COVID Guidelines

Dallas businesses have been allowed to resume or expand operations with restrictions as outlined in the governor’s guidelines.

Currently, shops are allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, while restaurants can operate at 50 percent capacity. Bars, craft breweries, and wineries are currently closed. Zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, museums, libraries, and skating rinks are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited unless approved by local officials.

On Friday, June 19, 2020, the Dallas County Commissioners Court issued an order requiring businesses to refuse entry to patrons who are not wearing masks, and restaurants are included in that order.

In general, many Dallas hotels, shops, attractions, and restaurants have reopened. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and verify hours and information with individual businesses. We encourage guests to practice all health and social distancing guidelines issued by the CDC, as well as state and local governments, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

State of Texas COVID Guidelines

Protocol for All Individuals

Individuals may not be in a group larger than 10 individuals (including those within the individual’s household). Within these groups, individuals should, to the extent possible, minimize in-person contact with others not in the individual’s household. Minimizing in-person contact includes maintaining 6 feet of separation from individuals. When maintaining 6 feet of separation is not feasible, other methods should be utilized to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as washing or sanitizing hand frequently, and avoiding sharing utensils or other common objects.

In certain settings, such as restaurants and bars, minimizing in-person contact is more difficult, and wearing face coverings or masks is not feasible. For this reason, tables at restaurants and bars should not exceed 10 individuals.

In other settings, the group size may be larger than 10 individuals, based on the particular recommended minimum health protocols. In those settings, individuals should, to the extent possible, minimize in-person contact and use other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A group in this guidance is defined as:

10 or fewer persons including household members and including those who traveled together to the event or facility. Between groups or other persons outside of the group, 6 feet of distancing must be maintained.

Outdoor Events and Gatherings

Individuals may not be in a group larger than 10 individuals (including those within the individual’s household). Within these groups, individuals should, to the extent possible, minimize in-person contact with others not in the individual’s household. Minimizing in-person contact includes
maintaining 6 feet of separation from individuals. When maintaining 6 feet of separation is not feasible, other methods should be utilized to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as washing or sanitizing hand frequently, and avoiding sharing utensils or other common objects.

Individuals should maintain 6 feet of separation from others outside the individual’s group. A group is defined as no more than 10 persons including the members of the household and those persons
who traveled together to the event.

CDC COVID Guidelines

  • In general, the more closely you interact with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions.
  • Keep these items on hand when venturing out: a face mask, tissues, and a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible.

Should you go out? Learn about what factors you should consider before you head out.

Attending an Event or Gathering

Prepare before you go

  • Stay home if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (symptoms of COVID-19) , if you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Check with the organizer or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Prioritize attending outdoor activities over indoor activities and stay within your local area as much as possible.
  • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy—for example, masks (bring extra), hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and drinking water.

Use social distancing and limit physical contact

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet or more from people who don’t live in your household. Be particularly mindful in areas where it may harder to keep this distance, such as check-in areas, parking lots, and routes of entry and exit.
  • Select seating or determine where to stand based on the ability to keep 6 feet of space from people who don’t live in your household, including if you will be eating or drinking.
  • Arrive to the event early or at off-peak times to avoid crowding and congested areas.
  • Avoid using restroom facilities or concession areas at high traffic times, such as intermission, half-time, or immediately at the end of the event.

Wear masks.

  • Wear a mask when interacting with other people to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
    • Wearing masks is most important when social distancing is difficult.
    • Masks are strongly encouraged in settings where individuals might raise their voices, such as shouting, chanting, or singing.

Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items

  • Use touchless garbage cans or pails and cashless payment options when possible. Otherwise, exchange cash or card by placing payment in a receipt tray, if available, or on the counter.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and condiments or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • Use disposable food service items including utensils and dishes, if available.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer immediately before eating food or after touching any common surfaces like hand railings, payment kiosks, door handles, and toilets.