Learning, adapting and working together to get through the pandemic

As predicted by public health experts, the coronavirus situation continues to change. In early September, low prevalence on campus was a reassuring sign, and we passed the first hurdle of returning to campus. But the Labor Day spike started a wave of virus transmissions that continues to grow as our county, state, and region joined the rest of the country in the fall wave of infection.

Lessons learned

This wave has brought about new concerns and worries. But unlike March, we have learned through experience and gained evidence-based knowledge about how to protect ourselves and fight this virus. Among the lessons learned:

  • Our carefully constructed protocols have prevented classroom transmission. No coronavirus infections have been traced to a classroom setting. Our foundational COVID-safe practices — wearing a mask, maintaining six feet between people, daily disinfecting, and washing hands — work.
  • People can get infected when they unmask, share meals in close quarters or indoors, or when they live or spend social time with extended networks of friends and families. The vast majority of our infections have been traced to such circumstances.
  • We have many real heroes at NMSU, who show up every day, carry out their duties and live these COVID-safe practices. We are all indebted to frontline faculty and staff in our classrooms, offices, and other workspaces, who are keeping the campus running.

Adapting to a new reality

  • We continue to adapt as we learn. For example, we have become better at using technology, tracing contacts, and managing quarantine – all very important skills as we live and learn during this pandemic.
  • We will also be adapting Spring Break for next semester. For more information, please watch for an announcement from Provost Carol Parker.
  • Many of our students and employees live in El Paso and are currently under a shut-down order, in effect for two weeks, issued yesterday by El Paso County Judge Richard Samaniego. NMSU expects all students and employees to comply with any COVID-19 restrictions that may be in place. Students need to work with their instructors regarding classwork and joining classes online. Employees need to communicate with their supervisors if not able to come to work.

Working together

As we face a new wave of infections, I am asking every member of the Aggie community to be an example to others, demonstrate proper behavior, and work together to help control the coronavirus. Here are three simple ways you can help:

  • Be a role model among family and friends. Always wear a mask in public and around people outside of your trusted quarantine bubble, maintain proper distance, and wash your hands frequently.
  • Be informed (learn how the coronavirus is transmitted), continue to learn from reliable sources (how and why masks work), and share your knowledge generously.
  • Be kind, understanding and patient when dealing with others; everyone around us — students, colleagues, family, friends, neighbors, essential workers — are all dealing with unprecedented stress. With each new phase of this pandemic, people have new fears, concerns and issues. When you have the opportunity, help them with kindness and compassion.

If we all work together, act as role models, and help each other, we can slow the spread of the virus, protect our loved ones, and strengthen our communities. It is not reasonable to think that we can stop the coronavirus everywhere. But we can start by defeating it here.

Final notes

Join the town hall webinar at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, on Zoom or Panopto for a discussion about current issues, updates on COVID-19 and a panel discussion about first-generation students. Questions may be submitted in advance and webinars are archived for later viewing.

And finally, if you haven’t done so already, vote: Polls in Doña Ana County are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Election Day, and early voting sites, including Corbett Center Student Union, will be open tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Learn more about when and where to vote in Doña Ana County here.

Feedback is always welcome at President.Floros@nmsu.edu.

Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Safe.

Go Aggies!

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