SMU has four operational levels that indicate the severity of COVID-19 transmission and its implications for instructional operations: very high, high, moderate, and low. The university operations level is reviewed and updated weekly, and posted on the Mustang Strong website. University leadership use the Assessment Tool and Plan to guide the University operational decisions. Additionally, state and local orders may supersede or a rapid outbreak of the virus could prompt a change in the university’s operational level.
Please see the full SMU COVID-19 2021 Operations Plan
Current assessment ranks SMU’s operations level at LOW
Federal/state/local mandates supersede institutional planning. If stay-at-home orders are in place, nonessential businesses are closed and individuals are expected to remain at home. Campus and building access is restricted and telework is the protocol for as many employees as possible following state and local requirements. Instruction is virtual, and in-person housing and programs are canceled. If stay-at-home orders are not in place, faculty may choose to offer instruction in a virtual/fully remote environment.
High Operational Level
SMU may operate low-density environments with significant prevention policies in place which may include limitations on meeting sizes, enforced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use and continued elevated 6 precautions for high-risk Individuals. Instruction with classes with enrollments of 95+ should be fully online/remote, and those with enrollments of fewer than 95 students should be held in classrooms where appropriate physical distancing can take place, which can include options such as a rotating red/blue schedule. Significant prevention policies are in place which may include limitations on meeting sizes, enforced PPE use, screening, contact tracing and selective quarantining/self-isolation.
• Limited access to facilities
• Limited small-group instruction (<10) for graduate students, high-need students, and specialized programs
• Distancing within shared offices for faculty/staff/graduate students
• Strict social distancing of at least 6 feet, required face covering, and frequent hand-washing
Moderate Operational Level
SMU can operate moderate-density environments with many protective measures still actively in place. The underlying threat of outbreaks remains, but prevalence of the virus is lower and testing and contact tracing capabilities are robust, permitting some polices to be relaxed. Treatments for the disease may be available, lowering the risk of severe outcomes. Instruction is a mixture of in-person and virtual instruction with online options for in-person classes (SMUFlex). Some students and faculty will not be able to return to campus, and accommodations should be put in place to enable continued academic progress.
• Easing of facility restrictions, rigorous cleaning and PPE protocols
• Low-density instruction (6-foot diameter per student)
• Limited specialized facility access (labs, studios, practice rooms)
• Shared offices with required distancing and other safety measures
• Strict social distancing, face covering, and frequent hand-washing
Low Operational Level
SMU can operate high-density environments. Once vaccines and/or highly-effective treatments are widely available, and coronavirus infection is lower, prevention practices can be gradually lifted. Even when treatments for the disease are available or immune protection is established, social interactions may remain changed for some time. Re-engineered processes and new technologies may persist, so long as they are functional.
• Classrooms near full capacity
• Shared office spaces
• Dining and residential activities with some modifications