WNMU COVID-19 Updates

© Western New Mexico University

WNMU Information Regarding the Virus That Causes COVID-19

Western New Mexico University works to ensure the health and safety of its community and is monitoring the global public health concern related to the new coronavirus. This page contains updates regarding the WNMU plan to mitigate the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, protect the Mustang community, and ensure those pursuing degrees may continue working toward their goals safely.

 

 

To reach the New Mexico Department of Health, call 1-855-600-3453.


Monday, October 26, 2020

For the continued health of the Mustang community into 2021, WNMU leadership is making some changes to the spring semester.

To ensure an adequate amount of time for students to quarantine upon returning to campus, WNMU will start the semester with courses being 100% online then transition to hybrid instruction after two weeks. Plus, to eliminate the need for courses to move fully online again midway through the semester, WNMU plans to start the semester one week later and remove spring break.

The university will reopen on Monday, January 11, 2021, and classes will begin online on Tuesday, January 19.  The university will reopen on Monday, January 11, 2021. Classes will begin online on Tuesday, January 19. Classes will begin in hybrid modes on Monday, February 1.

Monday, October 19, 2020

According to the state of New Mexico’s updated travel recommendations and most current public health order, persons arriving in New Mexico from out of state must self-isolate for 14 days sufficient to ensure that the public health and safety is not jeopardized.

The terms “self-isolate” or “self-quarantine” refer to the voluntary physical separation of a person or group of people in a residence or other place of lodging. Any person who is self-isolating or self-quarantining may only leave a residence or place of lodging to receive medical care and should not allow others into the residence or place of lodging. Visitors, including family members or roommates of an isolated or quarantined person, are directed to then self-isolate or self-quarantine for a period of no less than 14 days after contacting the traveler. The New Mexico Department of Health provides further travel guidelines here.

To meet this isolation requirement, employees have the option of working from home or using accrued leave. Faculty and staff need to consult with their supervisor to determine the correct course of action on a case by case basis.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Office of Housing & Residence Life 

Fall Semester – Closing Process

As you all are aware, COVID-19 has brought some interesting challenges to this academic year. As a university, these challenges have caused us to think differently about how we do business. One change is the structure of our academic classes. The semester started fully online, then hybrid, and online again after Thanksgiving break. Another change is the housing check-out process for the fall semester. Please make sure you read all the options and adhere to the one that applies to you. If you have questions or need additional information, contact the Housing Office at housing@wnmu.eduor 575-538-6629.

 Not Checking out of Student Housing

If you plan to stay in the residence halls for Thanksgiving break

  • Food service will not be available during the break.
  • Please fill out the request to remain in the residence hall over break form.
  • On the day of Thanksgiving, we will have a dinner for residents still on campus. More information will follow.

If you are leaving student housing for Thanksgiving break and will return to housing after Thanksgiving break

  • During the Thanksgiving break, keep in mind University and Housing staff will be limited
  • If you leave the Silver City/Grant County area, you will be required to quarantine in your on-campus suite for 10 days after your return or get tested for COVID-19 and produce a negative test result.

If you are leaving student housing for Thanksgiving break and not coming back until Spring (January)

  • Make sure all perishable items are thrown in the trash.
  • Make sure all trash is cleared from the room and taken to the dumpster.
  • Clean out your refrigerator.
  • On the day of Thanksgiving, we will have a dinner for residents still on campus.

Checking out of Student Housing

If you are leaving student housing for Thanksgiving break and not returning

  • Set up a check-out appointment with your RA.
  • Clear out all your personal items from the common areas of your suite (this includes cleaning, cabinets, drawers, refrigerators, ovens, shower curtains, personal items, etc.).
  • When you meet with your RA at your scheduled appointment time, your room must be completely empty and you must be ready to turn over the room key.
  • The RA will review your Room Inventory Form (RIF) and check for damages.
  • All damages will be marked on the (RIF) and both you and the RA will sign the form.
  • You will leave the room, the door and windows will be locked, and you must return the keys to the RA.

If you are staying around for Thanksgiving break or leaving for the break and will be checking out at the end of the semester

  • Before the winter break in December, you will follow the steps for checking out as listed above.
  • Please fill out the request to remain in the residence hall over break form.
  • Food service will not be avaliable during the break.
  • On the day of Thanksgiving, we will have a dinner for residents still on campus

Improper Check-out or Not Checking out with you RA

  • If you do not check-out with your RA or a housing staff member, you will be charged an improper check-out fee of $100.
  • You will also get assessed charges for all damages and any left items.
  • Charges are assessed at the discretion of the housing staff and can cost up to $500.

Please keep in mind, as long as you are enrolled in classes your housing contract is valid for an academic year. This allows you the flexibility to leave and return to campus as you please while following the orders of the Governor of the State of New Mexico. Also understand, if you completely check-out, you will not gain re-access to your residence hall without starting a new contract.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the housing office at 575-538-6629, housing@wnmu.edu, or contact your RA.

IMPORTANT DATES:

October 1st – Fall 2021 FAFSA open

November 21st – Spring 2021 Registration open (contact your advisor)

September 3, 2020

Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

What to do if a student tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms?

Please be aware of medical information, including COVID-19 test results, is protected under HIPAA. It is up to all of us in the WNMU community to protect one another. Therefore, we are asking everyone to commit to the Protect Western Pledge.

Being a member of the Mustang community means that each of us must take extraordinary steps to stay well and persistently protect each other, on campus and in the community. Accountable together, I pledge to take responsibility for my own health, the protection of others and help keep the Western community safe from the spread of COVID-19 and other infections as identified and instructed by the university.

As a member of the Mustang Community, I Pledge to

Protect Myself

  • Monitor for the symptoms of COVID-19 and report to a medical professional and my supervisor if I experience fever of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher, dry cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or loss of taste or smell
  • Wash my hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
  • Get vaccinated for the flu in the fall

Protect Others

  • Maintain appropriate social distancing, especially in a classroom setting or the presence of older members of the community.
  • Stay home if I feel ill or after exposure to someone who is ill or has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Wear an appropriate face mask and other protective gear as directed by the university
  • Be positive, attentive and helpful to anyone around who may be in need of support

Protect our Western New Mexico University Community

  • Keep my clothing, belongings, personal spaces and shared common spaces clean
  • Participate in testing and contact tracing to preserve the wellness of the community
  • Carefully observe instructional signs and follow directions

Steps we take at WNMU should a student test positive for COVID-19

If the student lives in the WNMU residence halls

  • The student will be moved to an isolated quarantine location in the residence hall immediately for 14 days after testing positive and showing no symptoms over the last 24 hours of the 14 days or
  • The student can produce a negative test result and be release from quarantine or
  • The student can be released from quarantine if 10 days after testing and showing no symptoms over the last 24 hours of the ten days
  • The roommates of the students who tested positive will be notified and they will be required to quarantine in their suite until they get new test results
  • If the new test results are positive, they will be moved to an isolated quarantine location under the same stipulations as mentioned previously
  • If the new test results are negative, the student will be removed from the quarantine list
  • We will work with our food vendor (Sodexo) to have meals delivered to students quarantined in the residence halls if they are on the meal plan

If the student does not live in the residence hall

  • The student will be asked to quarantine at their place of residence for 14 days after testing positive and showing no symptoms over the last 24 hours of the 14 days or
  • The student can produce a negative test result and be released from quarantine or
  • The student can be released from quarantine if, 10 days after testing the student is showing no symptoms over the last 24 hours of the ten days
  • If the off-campus student who tested positive has roommates and they are WNMU students, the roommates will be notified and they will have to quarantine at their place of residence until they get new test results
  • If the test results are positive, they must remain in quarantine under the same stipulations as mentioned previously
  • If the test results are negative, the student will be removed from the quarantine list

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is done three ways at WNMU:

  • A designated contact tracer
  • Athletics contact tracer for student-athletes
  • HR Director does contact tracing for staff and faculty

This information is compared weekly (more frequently if needed) by all three groups and individuals will be notified, as needed, and advised to either take a COVID-19 test or isolate for a few days and personally monitor for symptoms related to COVID-19. If a student who attends a face to face class has tested positive, the faculty member and students in the class will be notified individually. If a WNMU employee (staff, faculty, and student staff) has tested positive, the department director or department head will be notified and the director or department head will notify the staff and/or faculty. To assist with this process, it is very important for offices to record visits and faculty to take class attendance.

For additional information and updates, please refer to the Fall Reopening Plan.

August 25, 2020

From the desk of President Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D.

Last week ushered in a new fall semester that was uniquely different. While most of our students remained off-campus, we did have a cadre of students move into our residence halls. Further, we also had our student-athletes return both on-campus and off-campus. Finally, as I walked around campus, I encountered faculty and staff as well. I am pleased to report that in spite of COVID-19, we had a great opening and that was because we followed our protocols of testing, social distancing and wearing facemasks.

There have been recent reports that we have had students test positive for COVID-19 and those reports are indeed true. I suspect that throughout the semester we will continue to have positive test results.

However, I am not as concerned about the test result numbers as I am about how we react and what we do to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. To that end, I wish to share with you what we did last week to illustrate how our protocols assist in minimizing the spread of the virus.

As our students moved back into housing, they were required to show proof of a negative test or to get tested by our partner, Hidalgo Medical Services. While the students waited for their results, they were quarantined. Dr. Brundage and his team made sure that meals were delivered to the quarantined students to minimize future spread. He also made sure that various areas had extra cleaning attention dedicated to sterilizing any touched surfaces.

When the tests came back, the students who tested negative were released from quarantine and the students who tested positive were isolated. Naturally, we had some cases that emerged where we had students who tested positive had been in contact with other students such as roommates who may have previously tested negative. We are retesting those students and further quarantining the students.

We know more about COVID-19 today then we did just a few months ago, so I also wish to share some of the latest research and testing with you. One thing to know is just because a person tests positive, it does not mean they are contagious. According to Harvard Health here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The incubation period is thought to be three to 14 days.
  • We know that a person with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 to 72 hours before starting to experience symptoms.
  • People who test positive for the virus but never develop symptoms over the following 10 days after testing are probably no longer contagious, but again there are documented exceptions. Some experts are still recommending 14 days of isolation. In other words, most people are no longer contagious after ten days of no symptoms. The CDC allows for a person to return to work or school after 10 days of testing positive and not having any symptoms.
  • The CDC is no longer recommending a negative test before going back to work or school.
  • According to the CDC, individuals can still test positive up to three months after initial symptoms because the virus can continue to shed detectable traces, yet these individuals are no longer contagious.
  • This past week in Hong Kong there was the first documented reinfection case where a 33-year-old male was reinfected with the virus a second time four months after his first infection; however, his body did mount an appropriate immunity response and prevented the disease from getting worse which is exactly what the immune system is programmed to do. The point here is that just because you get COVID-19, it does not mean you cannot get reinfected, but it does demonstrate that your immune system will be most likely better prepared to fight the virus.

As we move further into the semester, we will continue to test our students and personnel. The testing itself is also improving. You may get tested at HMS or at the local pharmacy. Results are coming back quicker, but in most cases, there is a 72 hour lag between the test and the results. We are working with New Mexico State University to see if there are ways to reduce that length of time to less than 24 hours.

Recently, the FDA approved a new saliva test developed in partnership with Yale University that promises results in less than three hours. The University of Illinois just had a similar test approved as well. We are trying to obtain access to the equipment needed for this type of testing.

A word of caution about testing as there are many available, but not all are created equally. For those who are relying on antibody tests, which involve a blood draw, keep in mind that it takes the body at least five to ten days after you acquire the infection before the body will produce the antibodies. By then, a person could easily infect another person without knowing whether he or she is infected. We will continue to pursue access to robust testing that catches the virus quickly and minimize its spread.

While I am proud of our campus community and our responses to date, we must stay vigilant. Keep wearing face masks, practice social distancing and wash your hands multiple times a day or use sanitizer when you are unable to wash your hands. I do not expect to eliminate the virus, but I do believe that by working together, we can minimize its spread and its impact. Thank you for joining me in making our community as safe and healthy as possible.

Go Mustangs.

 July 27, 2020

From the desk of Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Isaac Brundage.

Attention Residents:

As we move closer to the fall opening, I would like to provide you with updated information. Please review the below information, as some of it has changed.

Room Assignments (Updated information):

  • Room assignments can be viewed by logging into Room Choice (https://wnmu.roomchoice.com/new/property/1).
  • Please keep in mind, the Office of Housing and Residence Life reserves the right to move any resident as needed per the housing contract.
  • Due to COVID-19 and required changes for athletes, some of you have been moved to different housing locations. We apologize for the inconvenience, but because of the circumstances, we had to make the changes.
  • Room change requests have been suspended until after the first two weeks of class.
  • To request a meal plan change, you must also go to the student resource section of the Housing website (https://reslife.wnmu.edu/forms/meal-plan-request/#gsc.tab=0).

Check-in Dates and Times (Updated information):

  • Housing Check-in dates for ALL residents, including athletes, are August 14, 15 & 16, 2020.
  • To eliminate crowds and long lines, residents will be assigned a check-in time based on last name. The times are the same for each day and are as follows:
    • Last names A – E 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM
    • Last names F – J 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
    • Last Names K – O 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
    • Last Names P – T 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM
    • Last Names U – Z 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
  • We are asking residents to limit the number of guests coming to assist with their check-in process (limit of 2 guests, when possible).
  • We are requiring students and their guests assisting with check-in to wear masks.
  • THERE WILL NOT BE ANY EARLY CHECK-INS. Please plan your travel accordingly.

COVID-19 Guidelines (Updated information):

As we all are aware, the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing throughout our nation. Based on the New Mexico Department of Health’s website (https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html), to date, New Mexico has 19,042 cases and Grant County (where WNMU is located) has had 63 cases, 1 deaths, 20 recovered, and 4,377 tested. Any number of cases is too many, but I understand that is low compared to many other cities and locations. To assist with keeping cases to a minimum, we are requesting the following:

  • The Governor of New Mexico is requiring all individuals coming from outside of New Mexico or areas with high positive cases to self-quarantine for 14 days. We are requiring the same at WNMU. Students can do one of the following:
    • Plan to self-quarantine for 14 days (this can be done in your residence hall) or
    • Provide a negative COVID-19 test result that was taken within 3-6 days of your check-in date.

Residents self-quarantining and on the meal plan will have meals delivered to their apartment/suite by Housing and/or Athletics’ staff.

  • We are still recommending all residents get tested 3-6 days prior to coming to check-in. This should be done with enough time to get your results. Please bring results to check-in. We will have professional medical staff on hand to review them.
  • We will also have Hidalgo Medical Services (HMS) present at check-in to check vitals and administer the COVID-19 nasal swab test.
  • As stated before, there will be no early check-ins and check-in times are based on your last name. Students are also being asked to keep guests helping with check-in at a minimum.
  • We are asking students to be strategic about what they bring at check-in. If there is another surge with the virus and students have to leave campus and check out of housing, they should be able to do this expeditiously with minimal items to either send or take home.
  • Since some of our students are coming from other states, we are asking you to review the COVID-19 orders from the Governor of New Mexico (https://www.newmexico.gov/latest-updates/).
  • Other updates:
    • Students will be asked to wear masks or a cloth face covering when in public places around campus.
    • Each resident will be given a disinfectant kit that includes a washable face mask, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, a personal thermometer, etc. (plan to supplement with your own personal supplies).
    • Non-residents will not be permitted to visit the residence halls
    • Large gatherings, including parties, will not be permitted in the residence halls.
    • Students will be required to follow all New Mexico Department of Health orders related to social distancing, wearing masks, and social gatherings. Those not willing to comply can be asked to leave student housing with no refund.
    • Housing has set aside spacing for quarantining individuals and/or groups of students if needed.
  • Review the University Fall Reopening Plan – https://wnmu.edu/fall-reopening-plan/#gsc.tab=0 – This plan has information related to the entire campus opening, including how classes will convene.
  • These protocols are subject to change in accordance with the guidelines and mandates issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the New Mexico Department of Health.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact us at housing@wnmu.edu or 575-538-6629.

Sincerely,

Dr. Isaac Brundage

Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Fall Reopening Plan
Western New Mexico University will reopen in three phases this fall. The plan includes online, distance and hybrid learning formats. For details, visit wnmu.edu/fall-reopening-plan, where the plan will be kept current.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Miller Library
The Western New Mexico University J. Cloyd Miller Library and the WNMU Information Technology Resource Center are now open to WNMU students, staff and faculty. Miller Library is currently open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on weekends.

The library is adhering to the state-issued COVID-safe practices and has implemented social distancing procedures. Everyone must wear a mask in Miller Library at all times. Additionally, group study sessions are prohibited, and use of meeting rooms is not permitted.

At this time, public patrons are not allowed entry into Miller Library but are encouraged to use curbside service to check out library materials. Items may be placed on hold for curbside pickup through the library’s online catalog at library.wnmu.edu. Search for a keyword, click on a title in the results list, then click on “Request for Pickup” under “Request Options.” Complete the form, noting “Curbside Service” in the comments. Otherwise, call 575-538-6359. After placing a hold and receiving a hold notification, call 575-538-6359 to initiate curbside service.

Community patrons must have a picture ID to pick up items. WNMU students, staff and faculty can also use curbside service. WNMU affiliates must show Mustang ID or other form of picture ID.

Miller Library materials can be returned using the exterior book drops to the right of the library’s main entrance doors.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mustang ID
Students wishing to receive a new or replacement Mustang ID may contact the WNMU Business Office through email at busaf@wnmu.edu to schedule an in-person appointment for ID issuance. Students must be finalized for the summer semester and/or currently living in a student residence hall in order to be eligible for a new or replacement ID. Replacement cards will require payment of $15 before issuance.

Monday, May 11, 2020

CARES Act/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding Update

The federal government is providing special Covid-19 emergency grants to college students around the country. As WNMU prepares to distribute this funding to eligible students, the university is sharing information to help students understand how they may be impacted. Answers to frequently asked questions about the CARES Act/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding are available here. Students needing further info may contact the WNMU Financial Aid Office at finaid@wnmu.edu.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From the Desk of Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Isaac Brundage
Attention campus residents,

The semester ends on Thursday, May 7, 2020, and the final date to check-out of WNMU campus housing is Sunday, May 10, 2020.

How to check out of WNMU Housing:

  • Contact your RA to schedule a day and time to check out.
  • If your RA is not available, then contact the housing on-call phone (Mustang Village/Muir Heights: 575-654-2756; Centennial: 575-654-2867) to schedule a day and time to check out.
  • Please try to keep your check out times between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Prior to the RA arriving to check you out of your room, make sure the room is clean, all your personal belongings are removed from your room and common areas, and you are ready to turn over the key and walk out of your suite. Keep in mind, the door will be locked behind you.

We understand because of the current climate you might have circumstances beyond your control, so if you need a check out date after May 10, 2020, please make a request by emailing housing@wnmu.edu.

How to return a WNMU Mailroom key:

  • To ensure the health and safety of the WNMU community and due to the Stay Home Ordinance, the mailroom will be allowing students that have already returned home to return their campus mailbox key by mail.
  • If you do choose to mail your key back, please follow the USPS Packing Instructions to ensure delivery and refrain from receiving a $30.00 fee for a “lost key.”
  • Tape it to a piece of paper and place it in a padded envelope. Rigid and/or odd shaped items in a standard paper envelope are not compatible with high speed sortation equipment designed for letter mail, and the envelope will become damaged — most likely resulting in the key becoming separated from the envelope.
  • Please complete this WNMU Mailroom Return Key Form and place it with key.
  • Mail in your key to:
    Mailroom Personnel
    P.O. Box 680
    Silver City, NM 88062
  • If you have questions about returning your mailroom key, contact Vanessa Flores at 575-538-6477 or vanessa.flores@wnmu.edu.

On campus housing is available for the fall 2020 semester. If you have not signed up, visit wnmu.roomchoice.com.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the WNMU Housing Office at housing@wnmu.edu.

Sincerely,
Dr. Isaac Brundage
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Monday, April 20, 2020

The WNMU Child Development Center and Growing Tree will not re-open May 1, 2020. Teachers will continue to be in contact with families. Arrangements are being made for shutdown, and teachers will provide that information in the near future. It is the current plan to start the semester with August 10, 2020, as the first day back for children. Be sure to contact Julie Simmons about registration if you haven’t already registered or if you have questions.

The WNMU Child Development Center refunds have already been processed for March 17 through April 15. Refunds for April 16 through May 13 will be processed at the end of the month. Those who had balances before the closure of the program still owe those amounts. Debt could affect the registration process that is going on right now. Final notices of balances will be emailed soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

WNMU Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with the WNMU President’s Office, has made the difficult decision to cancel ¡Fiesta Latina! 2020. Given that there is no assurance as of now that large gatherings will be allowed by June, coupled with the logistics of an event this size, which require an enormous amount of pre-planning and coordination with people inside Mexico, making it happen has become less and less feasible. We are working on putting together a virtual Artisan Mercado on the ¡Fiesta Latina! Facebook page, which will include artisans who have an online presence. ¡Nos vemos en 2021!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

From the Desk of Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Isaac Brundage
Attention campus residents,

First, I would like to thank residents for your patience and cooperation as we work through these difficult times. One of my educational mottos is, “Everyone is a teacher and a learner.” I can definitely say we all have been learning together and from each other.

Some of you have asked for financial compensation for checking out of the residence halls early. We have discussed with administration and decided on the following:

If you checked out of housing or plan to check out of housing between the dates of March 23, 2020, and April 15, 2020, based on your check out date, WNMU will prorate your on-campus university housing charges and Sodexo meal plan charges. If you are on the meal plan and have unused flex dollars, the university will also refund you the amount of your unused flex dollars.

If you received a housing scholarship or meal plan scholarship, the amount of the scholarship will be subtracted before the charges are prorated. Also, if you owe a balance to the university, your refunded amount will be applied toward your balance first and you will receive the difference.

Please understand we are not closing the residence halls. Students wanting to remain on campus still have that option and checkouts will be at the end of the semester. Those who would like to checkout early and take advantage of the refund(s), please take the following steps:

o Contact the housing on-call phone to schedule a day and time to check out. The housing on-call phones are 575-654-2756 (Mustang Village/Muir Heights) and 575-654-2867 (Centennial).
o Please try to keep your checkout times to after 9 a.m. and before 9 p.m .
o Prior to the RA arriving to check you out of your room, make sure the room is clean, all your personal belongings are removed from your room and common areas, and you are ready to turn over the key and walk out of your suite. Keep in mind, the door will be locked behind you.

For those remaining on campus and participating in the meal plan, Sodexo will remain open for brunch (10:30 a.m. to 1p.m.) and dinner (4 to 6 p.m.). All meals are takeout only.

If you have questions about housing or the checkout process, please email the housing office at housing@wnmu.edu. If you have questions about your refund of the meal plan, please email the business office at business.affairs@wnmu.edu.

Sincerely,
Dr. Isaac Brundage
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Per the public health orders issued by the State of New Mexico, the Western New Mexico University Museum is closed to the public, and in the spirit of change and adaptation, WNMU Museum is exploring creative alternatives to showcase the incredible artwork and essays in the #AppliedIsTheKeyWord: Anthropology Museum as Art Studio exhibition originally planned to open on for April 17, 2020.

Monday, April 6, 2020

WNMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jack Crocker, along with faculty leadership, has decided that the university will maintain its current online and Zoom modes of instruction for the Summer 2020 term. “Everyone’s safety and health must be the priority,” he said.Students who are already enrolled in face-to-face summer classes will be notified of the transition.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

WNMU Early Childhood Programs we will remain closed at least until April 30, in accordance with the state’s orders. The Child Development Center staff is working with the WNMU Business Office to sort out fees owed and next payments, and they have together already processed the first adjustments through April 14. Any further adjustments will be made at the end of April, and Budget Manager will email parents about changes to their accounts. Registration with the WNMU Early Childhood Programs for fall has begun.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Attention WNMU Campus Residents:

Western New Mexico University is an open access institution and in many cases provides an opportunity to students that might not receive that opportunity at other institutions. The best part is our students are developed to a point that is just as good, if not better, than any other student in the country. With that said, for some of our students living on campus is their only option. If we were to close the residence halls, some of our residents would be homeless. This is one of the reasons we have decided to keep the residence halls open during these trying times of dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19). We understand the anxiety parents and students may feel about being away from home at this time. Returning to your residence hall is optional, but as you can see not all students come from the same circumstances.

For us to remain a home for all of students, we need the cooperation of residents, especially those of you who went away for spring break. We are asking that you abide by the following guidelines:

  • Self-Quarantine – If you have been in high risk areas or situations that may have put you at risk for contracting the coronavirus, we are asking you to self-quarantine prior to you coming to campus. High risk areas include crowded venues, cities or countries with high numbers of cases, direct contact with affected family members, etc. Furthermore, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday issued an executive order requiring air travelers to New Mexico to self-isolate for at least 14 days to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Air travelers who fail to voluntarily self-isolate will be subject to forced isolation or quarantine by the New Mexico Health Department, Lujan Grisham says in the order.
  • Stay Home Ordinance – The Governor of the State of New Mexico has issued a stay home ordinance through April 10, 2020. Current information about the state’s regulations can be found here. What does this mean for WNMU students and residents?
    • This means you must stay home or in the residence halls unless traveling for essential reasons.
    • This means residents will not be permitted to congregate in groups of 5 or more inside or outside the residence halls.
    • This means residents must keep all activities in their apartments or suit with no outside visitation, this includes other residences halls, rooms, suites or apartments.
    • This means only essential businesses are open in the community.
  • Meals – Starting Monday, March 30, 2020, Sodexo will resume normal business hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner for take-out meals only. After next week, we will evaluate usage to determine meal hours. Mustang Cares (Food Pantry) is open by appointment only. They have food, toilet paper, and other toiletries. For an appointment, please call 575-590-2335.
  • Checking out of Housing – Even though the residence halls are remaining open, some residents have inquired about checking out before the semester ends. If you would like to check out before the semester ends, please do the following (Please keep in mind you are not required to check out of your residence hall):
    • Contact the housing on-call phone to schedule a day and time to check out (the numbers are listed below).
    • Please try to keep your check out times after 9:00 AM and before 9:00 PM.
    • Prior to the RA arriving to check you out of your room, make sure the room is clean, all your personal belongings are removed from your room and common areas, and you are ready to turn over the key and walk out of your suite. Keep in mind, the door will be locked behind you.
  • Showing Symptoms: What if my roommate(s) or I show symptoms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
    • Students showing symptoms of COVID-19 must get tested and medical attention immediately.
    • If needed, we have the ability in housing to quarantine residents.
    • Information about COVID-19 and associated symptoms can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website.
  • Precautions taken by WNMU – Whenever possible common areas are being cleaned hourly by the University custodial staff. Common areas are (lobbies, laundry room, community restroom, hallways, and door handles).
  • Questions: What if I have additional housing related questions?
    • If you have additional housing related questions, please contact the housing on-call phone at 575-654-2756 (Mustang Village/Muir Heights) or 575-654-2867 (Centennial).
    • Regular COVID-19 updates can be found on the homepage of the University website here: http://wnmu.edu/covid-19-updates

Any resident or student found in violation of these or other housing policies can be asked to leave and check-out of housing within 24 hours or less without a refund and will be trespassed for the remainder of the spring and summer semesters. They will also go through the student conduct process remotely after being asked to leave.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and help ensuring the safety of everyone in our University community.

Sincerely,
Isaac Brundage
Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Dear Campus Community,

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently issued more restrictions to disrupt the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the state including the closing of non-essential businesses. However, in her Executive Order, government agencies such as universities are exempt. That noted, Western New Mexico University will continue to adhere to the principles of the Executive Order. This means minimizing or eliminating social contact and limiting outings to those absolutely necessary. Group sizes will be limited to five or less and we will continue providing as many operations online or at a distance. To do so, I wanted to share with you our current thinking and update you as to what we can do as a community.

In today’s ever-changing world, we must remain flexible and that includes how we conduct business. To that end, where it is possible, all faculty and staff are encouraged to work from home through April 10, 2020. This means full-time and part-time faculty and staff; benefitted and non-benefitted; hourly and non-hourly. When working from home, operate under the notion that this is not a paid holiday, but rather simply moving your office, work station or location to your home. Your work will still continue and you are expected to be responsive. I encourage supervisors to have regular interaction with your employees. You should be attentive and responsive to your emails. Start your day at the time you normally come to work. End your day at the time you would normally end it. Have your work phone transferred to your cell phone. If you need a computer, grab your office computer and relocate it at home. Get tech support to VPN to the various servers. In short, the major work modality that is changing is your actual work location. In a separate letter, Vice President Kelley Riddle will be sending information on paychecks, the mailroom, dining, timesheets and other operational details.

For some of us, our duties may be such that are impossible to complete from home. Some of you may still be required to come to campus to complete your work responsibilities. Our maintenance department, landscapers and custodians are examples of this. When on campus, please minimize person-to-person contact. To those individuals who do not need to be on campus and whose duties cannot be done effectively from home, I have asked the Vice Presidents to assign other responsibilities. For example, you may be asked to call existing students to encourage them to register for the summer or fall. Or you might be given a list of prospective students who you may call to encourage them to continue their progress toward attending WNMU. We might ask you to call donors to thank them for their support and inquire how they are faring through this uncertainty. Some of you are experts in Canvas and could mentor those of us who are not. In short, we have plenty to do.

My objective with this is to make sure that we all advance the university’s mission forward through these trying times. Further, I want to ensure that where possible, we maintain employment for all of us who want it. These are difficult economic times and receiving a consistent paycheck is vital to reducing your stress and anxiety. Again, we have no plans at this time for layoffs or furloughs. Even our non-benefitted non-student workers can continue working from home and get paid. If you are unsure, ask your supervisor how you can help. If you have nothing to do, find creative ways to benefit the university and I will gladly continue to pay you.

Student workers are a different category. We have some student workers who have essential functions. For example, we have a student worker who makes sure the animals in the science building get fed. Keep on feeding them. We have others who have asked if they can continue their work on campus, but maintain a social distance from all others. If we can accommodate you, we will. As much as possible, we should try to find work for those student workers who wish to continue working. The student worker should inquire with her/his supervisor for various options. But assume you have a student worker who cannot work from home and we have no further duties for him/her. Encourage that student worker to take advantage of applying for financial aid. Also encourage those students who no longer have a job to apply for unemployment. We will support those efforts as well as the federal government’s expansion of their assistance.

On Monday, March 30, classes will resume with the majority of them online. Canvas portals are being created for all students. Students will be notified on how to access those portals. Next week will begin a new chapter in how we teach at a distance. Online courses are not for everyone and many of our students are anxious. We will need to have patience, tolerance and flexibility. Some courses cannot be taught online. We will give priority to students who need the course to graduate and try to accommodate all students in the class in groups of five or less.

We will need to be creative and think beyond the normal standards because these are not normal times. I am encouraging our faculty to err on the side of understanding and empathy. This may mean giving someone an incomplete so they have additional time to finish a course or their required contact hours. Together we will make it through this. We must not let perfect stand in the way of good.
There has been a number of questions about graduation. We are sending our future Spring graduates a survey inquiring if they would like the graduation ceremony held virtually, in August, combined with December’s commencement or nothing at all. From their answers we will determine the Spring commencement, but as of now, Spring commencement in the
physical sense has been canceled.

Universities are small cities. Ours is no different with a myriad of complexities and responsibilities that often compete with each other. We have an early childhood center that we have closed and we have housing that we are keeping open. I get asked about refunds. If we close it, we will give refunds. If we keep it open, we don’t. Take Housing, for example, we have not closed it and I do not plan to do so. We have students living there that if we closed housing, they would have nowhere to go. So Housing is to remain open as is the availability of meals through the take-out service at the dining hall.

There are numerous other questions people have. The most current information is on our website at www.wnmu.edu. We now have a page for frequently asked questions on a variety of topics. We will continue to expand this page. There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainty.

But one thing I know is we truly have some fantastic people working at WNMU. I want to thank each of you for your patience, flexibility, and willingness to adapt to these rapidly changing times. Together we will persevere.

Go Mustangs,
Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D.
President

 

FROM THE OFFICE OF VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS AFFAIRS

March 25, 2020

The university is abiding by the executive order put in place by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham by remaining closed through April 10, 2020, except in essential areas such as facilities, housing and the dining hall. While the university is closed, we expect all employees to work from home. Employees should check in with their supervisors daily for instructions or tasks to be taken care of that day. If you wish not to work from home and be on an extended spring break, you must request approval from your supervisor to use annual leave.

Timesheets for hourly employees: If you are checking in with your supervisor daily and working on assigned tasks, you should complete your timesheet as if we were open. If you are scheduled to be on leave and will not be working from home, use the appropriate leave code on your timesheet. Administrative/Holiday pay is not authorized for this closure since we are expected to be working.

Student Workers: Federal and State funded work study positions will be provided payment for their normal work schedule during this time without the requirement of working. They will need to submit their timesheet via web time entry. The Office of Financial Aid will contact student employees and supervisors with additional guidance. Institutionally funded work study positions will only get paid for hours they work. It would be in their best interest for supervisors to assign some type of task during this time so they do not go unpaid.

Equipment needs: Email can be checked through Mustang Express or the Outlook app on your smartphone. If you do not have a home computer capable of the required tasks you are asked to perform and your department does not have a laptop available, you can take your workstation home. Keep in mind this has its challenges, as our IT help desk can’t set this up for you at your home. Also, the workstation will not be able to connect to WiFi, you will need the ethernet cable to be plugged directly into your port at home. The workstation must be checked out through IT using the online help desk ticket through Mustang Express. You will be responsible for returning the equipment in its current condition at the end of the closure.

Paychecks: As of today, paychecks will be mailed to the W2 address on file. This includes student workers. If you need to change your W2 address, follow the instructions posted on the Employee Tab in Mustang Express. You can also view your current W2 address in this location. Direct deposit will be processed as normal.

Mailroom: The mailroom will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Department packages can be picked up at this time. Mailboxes can be checked during the open hours of the Student Memorial Building of 10:30 to 1:30 and 4:00 to 6:00.

Dining Hall: The dining hall will be open for brunch from 10:30 to 1:30 and dinner from 4 to 6 p.m. This is take-out service only. Einstein’s will remain closed. If you are unable to leave your residential hall due to self-quarantine, another student may pick up and deliver a take-out order for you by providing your name and W00# in the dining hall.

Tuition Payments: Any student who will have a difficult time making their tuition payment due to COVID-19 should send an email toHeather.Rux@wnmu.edu and Amanda.Stern@wnmu.edu to request delayed payments.

 

OTHER NEWS
The WNMU Foundation office will be closed until April 10, 2020, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our staff is working remotely and is happy to help or answer questions via email. Support during this difficult and changing time is imperative. Gifts may be made online or mailed to PO Box 1158, Silver City, NM 88062.

J. Cloyd Miller Library is closed, as is the WNMU Museum.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Einstein Bagel Bros. on campus will close for the remainder of the spring semester.

Monday, March 23, 2020

As of 4 p.m. on Monday, March 23, the WNMU Child Development Center will close through April 14. The staff will notify families as changes occur. Administration is meeting to discuss payments and other issues related to this closure, and those impacted will be notified as soon as possible.

The WNMU site of the Tax Help New Mexico Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program will close indefinitely. The possible continuation of this year’s program will be reassessed in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Dear Mustang Community,

Given the additional restrictions placed on residents of New Mexico in the hopes of minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, employees and student workers are advised to stay home next week and return to work on March 30, 2020.

During the week of March 23, faculty members are asked to transition your courses. You may choose to deliver asynchronously through Canvas or you may choose to synchronously deliver your course through video conference (Zoom).If you feel the need to work from the office next week, please notify your supervisor and practice social distancing. Remember to limit group gatherings to ten or less. Sodexo will be open for brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and regular dinner hours. All meals will be take out only. We will reassess toward the end of next week to determine what schedule will work for the following week.

The child development center will open as scheduled on March 23. While we want to do all we can to isolate individuals, there are many in our community who are relying on a safe place for their child while they work in other jobs. Such noted, if you are an employee of the university who has a child at the CDC, please keep them at home as we are permitting you to remain home.

At this time, classes and regular work schedules will resume on Monday, March 30, 2020. Employees should consult with their supervisor to determine if work from home (WFH) or teleworking is a feasible option.

I want to thank the Mustang family for coming together during this difficult period. You each are contributing to living the mission of the university and moving us forward as we model caring and creativity. There are many areas to thank such as Marketing and Communications, IT, Maintenance and faculty who, along with many others, have worked over the spring break to keep us informed, safe and connected.

Your health, safety and mental wellbeing is of great importance to the university. Take care of yourselves and be kind to others as we all deal with stress in different ways. Please keep checking the WNMU website at wnmu.edu for important university updates as well as your university email.

Go Mustangs,
Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D.
President

The WNMU Foundation office will be closed until April 10, 2020, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our staff is working remotely and is happy to help or answer questions via email. Support during this difficult and changing time is imperative. Gifts may be made online or mailed to PO Box 1158, Silver City, NM 88061.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

This is a special update from the New Mexico Department of Health clarifying the recent order issued by the State regarding closures around New Mexico.   

New public health order in effect

SANTA FE – The public health order issued March 19 by Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel temporarily strengthens earlier orders to include additional mandatory closures and guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 disease.

The order enacts restrictions on bars and restaurants, among other businesses. It can be viewed and downloaded HERE. Spanish version HERE. All public health orders downloadable HERE.

 

Here is more information about that order:

Q: Why are gatherings of only 10 or fewer allowed?

  • Everything the state of New Mexico is doing to combat COVID-19 is organized around one principle: To temporarily limit person-to-person contact, particularly in large groups. This is the best way to minimize spread of COVID-19 and prevent a spike in illnesses, particularly serious illnesses in vulnerable populations. Every day state officials re-evaluate the steps already taken and survey new opportunities to strengthen our response in order to prevent illness, save lives and avoid overloading our state’s hospital system. Even 10 people in a closed space is too many if one of them carries the virus, but this number is an appropriate and aggressive baseline for mitigating the virus’ spread throughout our state.

Q: Why are restaurants, bars and other eateries closed?

  • They are only closed to dine-in customers, under this order. Closing non-essential places where people gather is essential to getting New Mexicans to stay home in order to mitigate the spread of this virus. You can still call in an order for pick-up or home deliveryfrom any restaurant that chooses to provide those services, and we strongly encourage you to find other ways to help keep local businesses like these afloat during these difficult times.

Q:  What else has to close?

  • The order specifically requires indoor shopping malls, recreational facilities, health clubs, resort spas, athletic facilities, theaters (including movie theaters) and flea markets to close. All casinos and horse-racing facilities are also required to close, except for those on tribal land, which is beyond the state’s authority. However, most tribal casinos have closed voluntarily.

Q: What is a resort spa?

  • It is a larger spa – not a simple hair salon, barbershop or nail salon – that provides both lodging and professional therapeutic or relaxation services, including fitness and wellness programs. Salons and barbershops may remain open but, in accordance with the order, are strongly encouraged to limit operations to the greatest extent possible.

Q: What is an athletic facility?

  • Any place where people work out individually or in groups or watch sporting events. This includes gyms, skating rinks and indoor basketball courts, for example.

Q: Does the order include specific exemptions?

  • Yes. Although indoor shopping malls must close, if a restaurant in a shopping mall has an exterior entrance, it may provide take-out or delivery services just like other restaurants. Other exemptions from the order are airports and other transportation facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies, food vendors, shelters, courthouses, banks, correction and detention facilities, hospitals and other health-care facilities, congregate care facilities, and places of worship (during regular hours.) These are considered essential services and may remain open.

Q: What about hotels and motels?

  • The order requires hotels, motels and other places of lodging to operate at no more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy, but it exempts those operations providing lodging to health care workers or other individuals working in New Mexico. Hotels and motels may satisfy this requirement through attrition.

Q: So other types of businesses are still exempt?

  • The order exempts “typical business environments” from closing. That includes businesses, governmental organizations, political subdivisions or other entities engaged in commercial, industrial, charitable or professional activities. Those businesses may remain open, but they should, per the order, limit operations to the greatest extent possible and minimize employee contact.

Q: Are pickup and delivery food orders safe? What if a food preparer has the virus?

  • Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

Q: How will this order be enforced?

  • The state will ramp up surveillance of businesses to ensure compliance. Violators of the public health order could lose their licenses to operate, face fines or even jail time. New Mexicans wishing to report a violation of the order may call their local non-emergency number and make a report. The state police, the Environment Department, the state Homeland Security Department and the state Regulation and Licensing Division are all empowered through the order to enforce these restrictions.

Q: What if I’m unsure if an event falls under the order?

  • Start by reading the amended order, which is available HERE. If it’s still unclear, err on the side of caution, and stay home.

Q: How long will this last?

  • The order is in effect until April 10. It may be amended and put into effect for a longer period of time as conditions warrant.

Q: Where can I learn more about what New Mexico is doing to respond to COVID-19 and what’s available to affected workers, businesses, students and more?

  • newmexico.gov is being updated constantly as the state responds to the COVID-19 outbreak and identifies more resources for affected families and workers. For health-specific information about COVID-19, visit cv.nmhealth.org. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and would like to be screened for a test, call 855-600-3453.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

In this update, WNMU Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Dr. Isaac Brundage addresses campus housing and options for students currently living in the residence halls.

As the global COVID-19 situation continues to evolve and impact our state and community, many students may still have questions regarding on campus housing and associated services. To make sure we are all on the same page, I have listed a few of them. They are as follows:

STUDENT: I know classes are going online, but do I have to check out the residence halls?

  • No, you do not have to check out the residence halls.
  • The residence halls will be open through the end of the semester.

STUDENT: What if I am on the meal plan? Will I have a place to eat?

  • Sodexo will be open with normal business hours starting next week (week of March 23).

STUDENT: Since my classes are online, can I check out of my residence hall early?

  • Yes, you can check out early.
  • To do so, contact your RA to set up a check out day and time.
  • If you cannot get in touch with your RA, contact the housing on-call phone to schedule a day and time to check out (the numbers are listed below).
  • Please try to keep your check out times after 9:00 AM and before 9:00 PM.
  • Prior to the RA arriving to check you out of your room, make sure the room is clean, all your personal belongings are removed from your room and common areas, and you are ready to turn over the key and walk out the suite. Keep in mind, the door will be locked behind you.

STUDENT: I check out early, will my housing bill get prorated and will I receive a refund?

  • No, the residence halls are still open and you have option of staying the entire semester.

STUDENT: If I stay on campus will I have access to medical services?

  • Yes, Hidalgo Medical Services (HMS) is open and still seeing WNMU students.
  • To utilize the services at HMS, you must have proper ID and must be a registered student for this current semester.
  • At your own expense, you can utilize other medical services in the area.

STUDENT: If my roommate(s) or I show symptoms of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

  • Students showing symptoms of COVID-19 must get tested and medical attention immediately.
  • If needed, we have the ability in housing to quarantine residents.
  • Information about COVID-19 and associated symptoms can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website. cdc.gov

STUDENT: What if I have additional housing related questions?

  • If you have additional housing related questions, please contact the housing on-call phone at 575-654-2756 (Mustang Village/Muir Heights) or 575-654-2867 (Centennial).

Again, remember starting the week of March 30, 2020, classes will begin with online instruction. For additional information, check out the FAQ page and stay tuned for the latest University updates.

Go Mustangs

Monday, March 16, 2020

In this message, WNMU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jack Crocker shares how WNMU plans to transition to alternative delivery methods.

PLAN
Dr. Chavez, in collaboration with Dean Foster and April Hansen, has created the following plan for transitioning to online/Zoom classes:

  1. Information will be provided for transition to all instructors. Face to face instructors will be given the option of moving classes online to Canvas, continuing “face to face” instruction through Zoom video-conference, or both.
  2. Dean and April are preparing quick start tutorials for all instructors to use to make the transition. They have also both agreed to be available over spring break to assist instructors. Spring break has been extended by a week. Classes are suspended during this time. The week after the break is to be used by faculty to transition courses to online, Zoom, or both. (Although Dean and April will be available over spring break to provide support to faculty who begin working on the transition during that time.)
  3. Notification of activation to the WNMU community will be done through several methods. This page is a central point of information and continuous updates.
  4. Associate deans and chairs are responsible for monitoring and assisting faculty members with the transition.

TRANSITION DETAILS

  • For faculty already using Canvas or Zoom, transition will be straightforward.
  • Technical support will be provided for faculty members not familiar with Canvas or Zoom.
  • All students and faculty will be directed to Canvas for instruction.
  • All CRNs have a Canvas shell and that shell will be published and available for viewing by students if it’s not already being used.
  • For faculty who are unfamiliar with Canvas, there will be a Canvas shell titled “Canvas for Instructional Continuity” that will contain instructions on how to set up a Canvas course.
  • For faculty who are unfamiliar with Zoom, the Canvas shell will also contain a tutorial on how to use Zoom.
  • Each Canvas course shell will be set up according to a template that will assist with quick and easy set-up of coursework.
  • Faculty members already teaching a video conference course in WNMU facilities may continue teaching there as students attend through Zoom.
  • All faculty have been set up with Zoom accounts.
  • Some students and/or faculty may not have the appropriate technology to attend or teach online or by Zoom. (Dean and April will help if possible.)
  • Note: Canvas does not work with Internet Explorer.

ZOOM INFORMATION

  • Zoom can be used on any mobile device that has a camera (i.e. cellphones, laptops, tablets, and desktops).
  • If faculty choose to teach to an empty classroom through Zoom, there needs to be coordination to make sure the building and/or classrooms are open.
  • Zoom links can be accessed through Mustang Express, BUT the Zoom link is going to be set up in each Canvas Course shell so that it is readily available in one place without having to go to Mustang Express.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Dean and April will be doing daily Canvas and Zoom training the second week of Spring Break to help with the transition. (Details to be announced.) Should faculty need help in the meantime, here is how to get in touch with them.

Online Programs: (Dean Foster)
Email: online@wnmu.edu
Phone: 575-538-6149

Video Conference: (April Hanson)
Email: vidcom@wnmu.edu
Phone: 575-538-6061

The URL for the Canvas Shell that contains the tutorials for Canvas and Zoom is: https://wnmu.instructure.com/courses/1138185

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can faculty who already have online/Zoom classes keep to the regular schedule rather than suspending classes for the week after spring break?

  • Classes will resume on Monday, March 30 for all students. Every student, no matter their mode of attendance, was notified of a one-week spring break extension. As such, no classes will meet between March 23 and March 30. Consequently, pre-existing online/Zoom courses should follow this message, and professors must contact their students to confirm the suspension of classes until March 30. If the online/Zoom students initiate interaction with questions about assignments/projects, etc., such “instruction” can occur.

If the instructor is teaching to an empty classroom and if students want to attend an ordinarily face to face class that is now being video-conferenced, may they attend face to face if they remain the recommended six feet apart?

  • The safest response is not to have students together in the classroom.

Will the WNMU Child Development Center continue to be open and operating?

  • The Child Development Center will reopen on March 23, following spring break, according to WNMU School of Education Associate Dean Dr. Debra Dirksen. Families and CDC staff have been notified. Staff are working closely with maintenance to assure that the center is sterilized and clean. Services will continue unless the university fully closes or CYFD determines that it is no longer safe for child care centers to remain open.

Faculty, staff, and students will be traveling outside New Mexico. Some institutions are considering asking all travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return if they were in proximity to affected areas. Is WNMU considering this?

  • At this time such a measure is not under consideration. However, anyone who traveled and begins experiencing symptoms common to the coronavirus should act with extreme caution (including self-quarantine), undergo testing, and follow all medical guidelines.

Dr. Chavez and I (Dr. Crocker), in addition to associate deans and chairs, will be available to respond to questions/concerns that arise as the process goes forward. We realize there will be bumps in the road, but we hope to make the transition with as little disruption as possible for students and faculty. We are in extraordinary times and join a growing number of colleges and universities in New Mexico and across the country that are taking similar precautions and emergency actions. It’s a challenge that WNMU faculty and staff have already demonstrated the willingness, commitment, and ability to meet successfully.

I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation as we continue to adapt this unprecedented emergency. A special shout out to Dean and April for moving so quickly and comprehensively to help in the transition process.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable spring break.

Jack
jack.crocker@wnmu.edu

UPDATED: Thursday, March 12, 2020

Although there are no cases of the coronavirus at Western New Mexico University, WNMU will extend its spring break for students only and will be transitioning courses online starting Monday, March 30.

WNMU faculty and staff, including student workers, will return to work on Monday, March 23, either in person or remotely as determined by department supervisors.

Details are forthcoming and will be provided to the Mustang community as soon as possible.

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Dear Mustang Community,

As the world continues to react in unprecedented ways to the coronavirus, it is difficult to comprehend what may happen next. To assist in taking a pause as well as to reduce the risk of exposure through university classes and activities, I am authorizing an extension to Spring Break for students by an extra week. Therefore, classes will resume Monday, March 30. Faculty are being asked to convert their courses during the week of Monday, March 23, to online courses which may be via Zoom or Canvas. Faculty may do this from their home or on-campus. Staff are required to work beginning Monday, March 23, with those who are able to work from home via VPN doing so upon the approval of their supervisor. Student workers are also asked to return to their jobs on Monday, March 23, or contact their supervisor for further guidance.

There has also been much discussion of moving all of our classes to an online format. We will be moving the majority of our courses to Zoom or online for the remainder of the spring semester. Because of the complexities of some courses, such as welding, sculpture, and ceramics, they will be unable to go 100% online. Even those institutions that have claimed to go 100% online are discovering challenges with labs, vocational courses, and classes in the arts from going online. They are also finding other obstacles to being truly 100% online. If you are a student leaving town, I highly recommend that you take your class materials with you because the majority of your classes will be moved to online beginning March 30. For the first week you will meet online or through Zoom at your regularly scheduled class time unless your professor changes the date and time. Instructions will be sent to your email address at a later date on how to access your online class or your Zoom class.

Also today, the Lone Star Athletic Conference elected to suspend all athletic competition for spring sports until March 30. If you are a student athlete, please contact your coaches for any additional information or questions. As for other university events, those scheduled are now limited to less than 100 people. For example, until further notice, the movie theater will continue with showing movies, but will limit audience size, including staff to under 100 people.

Domestic travel will be allowed for day travel only. Travel requiring an overnight stay will require your respective division vice president’s approval. Conference attendance is prohibited until further notice.

Because of the fluidity of this health situation, we will be providing updates as they become available. Important university updates will be posted at wnmu.edu as well as disseminated via your university email. I encourage you to share any update you receive with others in our community. These measures are not designed to eliminate human contact, but to minimize the probability of spreading any disease.

Your health and safety is important for the university. Remember to practice good habits such as washing your hands frequently, skip shaking hands, cover your cough, keep a six foot social distance when possible and stay home if you are sick. Call the Department of Health at 1-855-600-3453 if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) of COVID-19.

This is not a time to panic, but it is a time to take thoughtful precautions that not only assist to manage the spread of the virus, but also to manage our world’s anxieties. This period of anxiety and fear will pass and our lives will eventually return to some sense of normalcy. Remember, the large majority of people survive Coronavirus. Mustangs have a long history of being fearless and strong. Stay safe, make good choices and keep calm.

Go Mustangs,
Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, March 12, 2020

As of now, there are no suspected cases of the virus at WNMU, and the New Mexico Department of Health has current information about cases appearing around the state. Students and employees should refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information about the situation nationally and for guidance on protecting yourself and others from infection.

Given the State of Emergency declared by the Governor of New Mexico, all official university travel during spring break is suspended unless approval is given by the President’s office. “Given the emerging responses to the Coronavirus, it is prudent to suspend such travel not only for the Coronavirus, but also for potential responses to it such as potentially limiting access back into the U.S. if traveling internationally,” President Shepard said.

The State of New Mexico has ordered the cancelation of all gatherings and events of 100 persons or more. This effects WNMU Cultural Affairs events such as the March 24 (Duke City Hora) and April 2 (Honeyhouse) performances at Light Hall. Full refunds will be issued upon request. This ban on large gatherings is in effect for 29 days, so please check back regarding events after April 9. WNMU Cultural Affairs thanks you for your understanding.

The Association for Experiential Education Rocky Mountain Regional Conference, which was set to be held on campus April 2-4, has also been canceled.

Due to the developing COVID-19 situation, the WNMU Outdoor Program has suspended all events and upcoming activities until further notice. This includes outdoor trips, workshops, Mustang Search and Rescue meetings and trainings, and gear rental through The Outpost. Please contact the Outdoor Program Director Dr. Kathy Whiteman with any WNMU Outdoor Program-related questions or concerns.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Dear Campus Community,

As the coronavirus continues to spread, I wanted to provide you with the latest updates as to how we are preparing for its potential risk to our university community and also provide you with some information as it relates to travel over the Spring Break. The majority of the information that I wish to share comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which has a dedicated website that provides valuable information.

First, I want to acknowledge that each of us has our own threshold of worry in terms of how we view the virus. For some, it is an inevitable part of humanity and if we get sick, then given our various age and health condition, we know that we will most likely survive its exposure. However, for others there is tremendous anxiety about how it may impact our lives. According to the CDC, the risk at present is low; however, it is expected that more cases will be reported in the coming days. The greatest risk group is the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. Recently, scientists believe the incubation period is five days, but are still recommending a 14-day quarantine for persons who may have come in contact with the virus.

At present, there are now three reported cases in New Mexico. However, if you are traveling over Spring Break, other states have seen cases with California and Washington having the greatest number of episodes. For more information here is a link to a list of those states that have reported cases. If you are traveling internationally, every country in the European Union has reported at least one case and Italy is on a lockdown.

From a higher education perspective, several universities have temporarily closed or have shifted their courses to all online. These universities are primarily in areas that have incidents of the virus. I have mixed reservations about this strategy, because it is not as simple as closing a university or moving classes to online. We have other factors to consider such as our on-campus student housing populations or our student athletes. Further, at some point we lose the forest for the trees in what it means to be a university. But still we must take prudent measures and be prepared.

  • I, along with Provost Crocker, have authorized the math department to begin determining how that department could offer online courses for all of its subject matter. Our plan is to identify what impact that might have and understand the ramifications before we ever launch a complete online strategy for all courses. The good news is that all courses already have a Canvas shell; however, typically there is much training and support that needs to accompany those courses that are moved online. Dean Foster and the Office of Online Learning and Distance Education staff have created and will provide resources and support to adapt courses for distance delivery should decisions be made to go fully online.
  • We are also examining field work and field placement. Keep in mind that we have students all over the country and their needs may be different. We need to be flexible and understanding to their needs and at times may need to be more liberal in allowing for incompletes which enable students longer periods of time to complete various practicums and placement.
  • We have also reached out to local medical centers and requested them to increase their supply of test kits as students and employees return from Spring Break and feel they may have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • If you see a student experiencing anxiety because of the coronavirus, or for any other reason, please remind them of the counseling services available to them through our partnership with Hidalgo Medical Services.
  • If a student reports they are sick, allow them to stay home and make up workstudy hours or class assignments at a later time. Do not require a doctor’s excuse to return to the workplace or the classroom.
  • Events/performances will continue as scheduled at this time. If you feel uncomfortable and have purchased a ticket for a WNMU-sponsored event, you may request a refund.
  • University-related travel to high risk areas is up to the individual. If you have paid for any of the travel arrangements on your personal credit card, you may request reimbursement.
  • Arrangements are underway to accommodate basic operations in the unlikely event employees may need to work from home. Details will be provided when solidified.
  • Custodians are wearing gloves and cleaning door knobs, railings and high traffic areas to help sanitize campus and reduce any potential spread. We appreciate their hard work and contribution in helping to keep us all safe.
  • Hand sanitizing dispensers will remain filled on campus for your use. Personal hand sanitizers have been ordered and are scheduled to arrive in the next couple of weeks.
  • Remember your role in this to reduce the risk to campus and loved ones: wash your hands frequently, don’t shake hands and stay home if you are not feeling well.

Given the dynamics of our university and its complexities, one size does not fit all. I count on our leadership and you to make good judgments and offer understanding. As coronavirus progresses around the country and has greater impact to our university, we will provide updated information.

Have a safe and enjoyable Spring Break,
Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, March 3, 2020

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Dominating the news is all things dealing with the coronavirus. And while we have had other pandemics in the past with the H1N1 (swine flu) having similar mortality rates, it is important to do all we can to take precautions. At present, the coronavirus has a mortality rate of around 3% with the majority of deaths being the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. However, while that would suggest that 97% survive infection, it can be traumatizing for even those survivors as flu-like symptoms along with fever set in and the person wonders if they are going to be part of the 3% or they wonder who else they may have infected. No matter the statistics there are some simple things that you can do.

One of the best things you can do is wash your hands or use a sanitizer regularly. To that end, I have instructed to custodial staff to make sure the various hand sanitizers are filled at key locations throughout campus. We are also ordering 1,000 of the small bottles of sanitizer that we will give to faculty and staff for your personal use.

But there is another measure we should take to prevent the spread of any cold, flu or eventually, the coronavirus: stay home when you are not feeling well. I know each of you has much work to do and missing work often simply puts you further behind in your tasks. Most of us do not have backups and worry about missing work and its impact to our colleagues. However, if you have a cough, runny nose or fever, you are potentially doing more harm than good by coming to work. Stay home. Many of us have sick time hours. Use them. The result will be your health improving and the lowering of risk to others.

Like other viral diseases in the past, it is most likely that we will experience a robust spread of the coronavirus. And like those other pandemics, most of us will survive. But in the meantime, let’s do all we can to minimize the risk and exposure to ourselves and to our colleagues by taking a few simple
actions that can make a difference.

Wishing you the best of health,
Joseph (Joe) Shepard, Ph.D.
President