Texas Tech University

Health, Safety Top Priorities as Texas Tech Community Returns to Campus

Glenys Young

August 5, 2020

The university will offer COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to create and maintain a safe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Employees across Texas Tech University have been working diligently since March to ensure the best possible return to campus this fall, one that offers both the full university experience of on-campus living, in-person classes and campus events and the increased health and safety measures necessary to maintain that experience.

These efforts are part of the Texas Tech Commitment, the university's pledge to create a safe campus environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Testing options

The first step for a healthy campus experience starts before students even leave home. Students who have not been practicing the safety guidelines recommended by the governor are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for any scheduled activities, meetings or classes.

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For faculty and staff members, or students unable to test before arrival, the university will offer free drive-thru testing in the north parking lot of the Museum of Texas Tech University, 3301 Fourth St. Weather permitting, the testing will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Aug. 24. Registration is required.

After Aug. 24, Student Health Services (SHS) will coordinate testing for the remainder of the semester. Students can schedule a test by contacting SHS at (806) 743-2848. Costs for these tests will be billed to insurance, for students who are insured, or students can choose the $40 self-pay option, which can be billed to their account through Student Business Services.

"The university is partnering with the City of Lubbock Health Department and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) to make health services available for students, faculty and staff," said Matt Roe, Texas Tech's assistant vice president for Environmental Health & Safety. "That includes increased access to testing and increased staffing for contract tracing through the health department."

Once students arrive on campus, they are discouraged from traveling away from Lubbock, especially to areas where COVID-19 infections rates are high.

Getting sick

If a student begins to feel sick while on campus or displays symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), they should contact SHS by phone at (806) 743-2848 or contact their primary care physician with any medical questions.

"It is important to communicate with medical support by telemedicine to reduce face-to-face interaction," Roe emphasized. "Health clinics and physicians' offices are taking significant precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their facilities. These actions include utilizing telemedicine appointments and limiting public interaction in the clinics."

If a student tests negative, it is important they keep taking the necessary precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the student should immediately notify SHS by calling (806) 743-2848. All students who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19 will be required to complete the mandated self-isolation period provided by the CDC. The Office of the Dean of Students can assist the student with accommodations to their academic schedule.

If a faculty or staff member is experiencing symptoms or has a known exposure, the individual should follow these steps that have been provided by Texas Tech Human Resources and contact their primary care physician; visit the Texas Tech Physicians Family Medicine Faculty/Staff Clinic, located on the second floor of the Student Wellness Center, or visit a local clinic that is providing COVID-19 testing. Faculty or staff who receive a COVID-19 positive test result should notify their immediate supervisor and submit the online reporting form.

For additional guidance, faculty and staff can contact the TTUHSC Nurse-on-Demand at (806) 743-2911. Before returning to work, the faculty or staff member must complete the CDC-mandated self-isolation period.

Contact tracing

A student, faculty or staff member who has been exposed to the virus will be contacted by a trained contact tracer. It is important to be responsive to these communications, so if a health professional or university administrator contacts an individual by phone or email, the individual should make every effort to return the message as quickly as possible.

"Notifying individuals of exposure so they can begin self-isolation is critical in helping to stop the spread of the disease," Roe said.

Self-isolation

If a student lives in university housing and is required to self-isolate due to possible COVID-19 exposure or a positive test result, the student may be asked to temporarily vacate their current housing location and return to their permanent residence or move to a different location to complete self-isolation until the student meets the CDC guidelines for return.

If such a student is unable to return home and a campus self-isolation unit is not available, the university will work to assist that student with temporary accommodations, including meal delivery and wellness checks, so the self-isolation period can be fulfilled.

Mental health

The university is committed to providing for the mental and physical health of its community during this stressful and unpredictable time.

The Student Counseling Center is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling (806) 742-367, and the Risk Intervention & Safety Education (RISE) office maintains a 24/7 crisis hotline at (806) 742-5555, through which students can be connected to a trained counselor.

Protect yourself

To reduce the odds of COVID-19 exposure on campus, face masks or appropriate face coverings are mandatory in campus buildings by all students, faculty and staff. Face coverings also are required in public outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be achieved.

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Other recommendations intended to reduce COVID-19 transmission include:
• Maintain a 6-foot physical distance from others when possible. If you can't maintain a 6-foot physical distance, be sure to wear your mask or appropriate face covering.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout campus, including the residence halls and dining facilities.
• Use the Red Raider Wellness stations deployed in all academic buildings. These stations feature hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and a limited supply of disposable masks. The sanitizing wipes can be used to wipe down personal seating areas in classrooms and common areas.
• Use paper towels, available in all restrooms, to open doors.
• Use telephone and video conferencing instead of face-to-face study sessions or group meetings.
• Refrain from shaking hands.

Campus facilities will be disinfected frequently, but students, faculty and staff can take steps to protect themselves by cleaning and disinfecting their own frequently touched objects and surfaces, including cell phones, laptops and iPads, with approved wipes and cleaning solutions.


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