Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents,
We are doing our best to keep you informed during this rapidly evolving situation involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as we prioritize the health and safety of our campus community, the ongoing continuity of our academic mission and the continuity of business operations.
Earlier today, Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver amended the City of Waco’s disaster declaration to include a Shelter in Place order, effective at 11:59 p.m. (Monday, March 23), which is expected to extend through Tuesday, April 7. Judge Scott Felton and the McLennan County Commissioners subsequently took similar action with a Shelter in Place order, and we understand Dallas County, where our Louise Herrington School of Nursing is located, is operating under similar restrictions.
The orders state that all individuals currently living within the City of Waco or McLennan County, Texas, are ordered to shelter at their place of residence to prevent and slow down community spread of COVID-19. All persons may leave their residences only for essential activities, essential governmental functions or to operate essential businesses and must continue to practice social distancing (at least six feet from others) when they are outside their residence.
Here are some important things you need to know about how these actions affect the University:
- Reducing the population density on our campus must be a priority. We are shifting to as much telework for faculty and staff as possible. All University offices will close to the general public at 5 p.m. today and all building entrances will revert to card-swipe access only for faculty, staff and students. We ask that you contact your supervisor to discuss any required on-campus staffing for your office.
- Even in a telework environment with few on-campus personnel, it is important that we continue to provide limited, yet essential on-campus services in support of students, faculty and staff. In addition, we must remain focused on the vital support of our online course instruction at least through the end of the spring semester.
- We understand some employees may have to return to campus periodically to complete essential parts of their work or to support business continuity. If employees maintaining essential business operations do not feel comfortable coming to work for any reason, please consult with your supervisor. Remember that whether you are at home teleworking or on campus, please continue to strengthen your personal health protection, including social distancing practices, and follow the instructions of federal, state and local officials. If you are sick, please stay home and follow CDC guidance for what to do next.
- Critical aspects of our business operations considered essential under the City of Waco Shelter in Place order will continue. These include: health services, food services that are available to-go, emergency responders, public safety, mail services, residence halls, janitorial and maintenance services, technology support, financial services and scientific research. Again, please contact your supervisor for information regarding any required on-campus staffing.
- Regarding ongoing scientific research, the Provost’s Office provides following guidance: To the extent possible, Baylor researchers are encouraged to engage in activities that can be performed remotely (e.g., writing, data analysis, etc.); essential laboratory operations are permissible, provided they can be performed while meeting the “6-feet” requirement for social distancing; and principal investigators (PIs) who wish to temporarily “close” their labs should use the checklist provided to ramp down laboratory operations.
- Our residence halls will stay open for the limited number of students who received permission to remain in the residence halls. Penland Crossroads dining hall will remain open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (food available to-go only). Student Health Services in the McLane Student Life Center will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- As announced last week, the Counseling Center will serve students via technology connections through the remainder of the semester. Also, pastoral care is available remotely through Baylor Spiritual Life and University Chaplain.
- The limited number of approved students living in residence halls must comply with the Shelter in Place order. The order allows students to leave their residence only for essential activities, such as going to the grocery store or picking up to-go meals on campus or from restaurants, visiting a healthcare professional and engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, running or riding a bicycle, with proper social distancing.
- Baylor Libraries will be closed to walk-in traffic; however, library personnel will continue digitizing resources to support online teaching. Access to all of the libraries’ digital resources and online research support will continue uninterrupted. Visit www.baylor.edu/library for more information.
We recognize that this situation changes each day, and we appreciate your understanding and adherence to these important directions. We ask that the campus community prepare for continued disruption and teleworking procedures at least through April 7. We will continue to share information and updates by email, social media and on our dedicated website at www.baylor.edu/coronavirus.
Thank you, again, and I continue to lift up prayers for our entire Baylor Family.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.