SMU COVID-19 Archive: Spring 2020 Welcome Back

SMU is committed to bringing its faculty, staff and students back to campus in a safe and healthy way. The purpose of this Welcome Back to Campus Packet is to provide recommendations and guidelines designed to protect the campus community and clearly communicate to University employees that we all have a role to play in maintaining a healthy work environment. The information we are providing addresses important issues such as face coverings, social distancing, training for the return to campus, employee screening, shared work spaces and many others. Please know that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we will adjust these guidelines to meet any challenges that may develop. The most up-to- date information will be placed on the Human Resources website. We look forward to the day that we can return to more traditional campus operations; meanwhile, please review this information thoroughly and make any preparations needed before your scheduled return to the campus.

You will see that we have provided  information to support your health, help you locate resources and keep the University moving toward reopening the campus for students in the fall. Some of the topics below include links to more information, and supervisors will have separate access to information they need to support their employees. Please plan to speak with your supervisor before your return to the campus to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Thank you.


  I.         Planning Your Return to Work


While some employees will begin returning to work on May 18, all SMU employees are expected to return to work starting June 1.

Employees who believe they may be at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions as defined by CDC guidelines are urged to consult their physician about steps they can take to protect their health. At-risk employees as defined by the CDC and others who may have additional health conditions to consider should work with their supervisor to discuss the possibility of alternate work arrangements for a specific period of time.

If you require assistance with child care issues, please contact SMU Human Resources at for resources that may be helpful. We are currently working to reopen SMU Child Care Center and will communicate additional information on this topic in the coming days.


II.         Training  


All employees returning to work are required to complete “COVID-19 Return-to-Work Training” before returning to campus. Please access this required training on Canvas here. The training covers the following topics:

  • COVID-19 Basics
  • Social Distancing and Face Coverings
  • Cleaning and Disinfection
  • Proper Hand Hygiene
  • Respiratory Etiquette
  • Medical Self-Screening and Reporting
  • Human Resources Elements
  • Meeting and Meal Etiquette


III.         Daily Self-Screening


All employees are required to conduct a daily self-screening to ensure they are symptom-free. The screening includes taking their temperature and assessing for the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling feverish or measured temperature greater than 100.0 °F

If these symptoms are present, the employee must stay at home, report to their supervisor, and complete the COVID Reporting Form. Find more information on self-screening and next steps available here. If you are sick and cannot work, you will need to use sick leave until you return to work.


IV.         Health, Wellness, and Safety


a.     Face Coverings


SMU will provide a  face covering for each of its employees, if needed. Face coverings can be picked up in Hughes-Trigg Student Center in the mail distribution area.

Out of concern for others, all employees should wear face coverings to the greatest extent possible when they are in public spaces on campus. You will not need to wear a face covering if you are alone or in your office. Employees should wear face coverings if they cannot properly socially distance themselves from others. If you cannot put on a cloth face covering (because of trouble breathing, for example) cover your coughs and sneezes in some other way and limit your time in public spaces and maintain proper social distancing. 

In line with recommendations from the CDC and other state and local authorities, SMU is strongly recommending the use of cloth face coverings at all times by employees in positions that interact with the campus in a face-to-face, service-oriented capacity. Some examples of these positions include facilities technicians, circulation librarians, OIT technicians and help desk personnel. Some positions on campus are subject to a stricter standard and require face coverings be worn, such as health care providers, first responders and food service employees. 

All visitors to campus should also wear a face covering. However, offices should not refuse service to any visitor if they choose not to wear a face covering. Requesting social distancing is appropriate.


b.     Cleaning


SMU is committed to providing an enhanced cleaning protocol which will include an additional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. cleaning presence throughout the campus beginning June 1, 2020, supplementing the overnight cleaning shift that already was in place before the pandemic. Facilities Planning and Management leadership has been working with SMU’s custodial services company (ABM) to implement enhanced cleaning procedures including all routine cleaning, sanitizing of high-touch areas and PPE requirements, as well as adding multiple rotations per day. You can read more about ABM cleaning protocols in SMU classrooms and offices here. If additional cleaning products are needed for employee use, building managers may request items through the work order process and they will be provided, as available.

Hand sanitizing liquid will be broadly available to employees throughout the campus.  


c.     Social Distancing Guidelines


Social distancing should be implemented at all times while on the University campus.  Social distancing means avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance of approximately 6 feet or 2 meters from others when possible (e.g., in break rooms and cafeterias). There is not a specific number of people identified to define a large gathering, but no gathering should take place without the ability to maintain proper social distance.


d.     Use of Elevators


Limit the use of standard-size elevators to four individuals at a time, each located at a different corner of the elevator, to avoid close contact. Smaller elevators in older facilities may only accommodate two individuals. Masks should be worn in elevators and individuals should refrain from touching surfaces unnecessarily. For individuals not wishing to ride an elevator, ensure stairways are available for use. As appropriate, individuals subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act may ride the elevator alone or accompanied by the individual’s caregiver.


e.     Work Spaces – Inserting Distance into Your Work Space


Before returning to your office, employees and supervisors should evaluate how their departments and offices are physically arranged. Workspaces include: open offices, office cubes, hotel-style suites, shared spaces , library circulation desks, OIT help desks and other common areas such as copy rooms, lobbies, break rooms and workrooms. Learn more about measures that can be put in place to ensure a socially distant working environment here.


f.      Workspace Resources


Many resources may be limited or back-ordered. Please act responsibly when requesting supplies to ensure that the campus wide community can be served.


  • Webcams, speakers, technology: Please reference the Office of Information Technology Purchase Site for information on how to order headsets and webcams. This is particularly helpful for individuals who work in more open environments.
  • Cleaning supplies: While our current contract with Staples is still active, the company has limited its sale of cleaning supplies to medical professionals. The Purchasing Department in the Office of Budgets and Finance is actively working with other suppliers for cleaning supplies. Building managers may request items through the work order process and they will be provided, as available.
  • Partitions, sneeze guards, etc.: Requests for partitions, sneeze guards or other types of plastic barriers should be submitted as a Facilities work order to the Office of Facilities Planning and Management. A funding source will need to be identified when submitting the work order.


g.     Travel


Travel restrictions remain in place for both domestic and international travel until further notice.

Under SMU Policy 11.4 , which addresses global travel, the suspension applies to any SMU faculty member, staff member, invited official guest, or student traveling internationally as an individual or in a group for SMU-sponsored, SMU-administered, SMU-affiliated, or SMU-sanctioned activities. This policy does not apply to personal or vacation international travel that is unaffiliated with SMU or to nonofficial guests or dependents.


V.         Contact Tracing


To assist the University in understanding how employees interact with each other, exterior doors to each building will remain locked, and each employee should enter buildings each day by swiping their own ID cards. The scanner will “read” your card whether the door is open or closed. We also ask that you that you swipe your ID card again when you exit a building. This practice will assist the University in the event contact tracing is necessary.


VI.          Telecommuting Arrangement Form


As employees are expected to return to campus June 1, 2020, all previously completed telecommuting arrangement forms will expire May 31, 2020.


VII.         Welcoming Visitors Back to Campus


Visitors are currently welcome to campus on a controlled basis.  Exterior building doors will remain locked, requiring those hosting visitors to make special arrangements to provide them with access.

Perkins Chapel will begin hosting weddings June 6, 2020 under the current state and local guidance provided for churches.

Division of Enrollment Services campus tours will resume June 8, 2020, from the Blanton Student Services Building.

Facilities that welcome visitors as a general course of business will need to create plans to open that allow them to meet any federal, state, or local requirements specific to their function and should plan on opening to visitors by July 6, 2020.  Examples of these campus facilities are the libraries, Meadows Museum and Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

We are currently awaiting direction from state and local officials regarding summer camps and conferences that are normally held on campus.  The current plan is to resume these activities June 15, 2020.