Looking back, into the future

In a year of perpetual changes, it is time to start planning for the transition that will return Aggies to workspaces at New Mexico State University.

In a memo from March 10, 2021, I reaffirmed NMSU’s commitment to in-person learning, and that the “plan for NMSU’s main campus for fall 2021 semester is to provide as much of a conventional semester as we can while using the public health precautions that allow us to resume shared campus experiences.” While there are still unknowns about what those public health precautions will be, it is certain that if we don’t start planning now to return to campus in the fall semester, we won’t be ready in August.

Unlike the move off campus a year ago, we can transition back to our workspaces with planning, deliberation and poise. Whether we have spent the past year at home or on campus, there will be challenges as we bring people back. Here are some to consider.

  • Vaccinations: Anyone wanting the protection of a vaccine from COVID-19 should be aware that full immunity typically takes two weeks after the last shot to develop, and in some cases, that last shot could come four weeks after the first. New Mexico is currently predicted to make the vaccine available for all adults in April. Anyone getting their first shot in early to mid-May, should have full immunity by late June or early July. Register for your vaccine with the New Mexico Department of Health online or by phone at 1-855-600-3453. Getting a vaccine is a personal decision and is not currently mandated by the state of New Mexico or by NMSU.
  • Workplace hesitancy: From re-acclimating to being around people to dealing with the emotional pain of a difficult year, the transition back to campus will be yet another change in a time full of disruptive changes. Start preparing for this now, mentally or otherwise, and you may reach out to NMSU’s Employee Assistance Program or the Aggie Health and Wellness Center for counseling services, if needed.
  • Workspace arrangements: NMSU follows guidance on workplace conditions from the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we will continue to update the NMSU Now Pandemic Action Plan with the latest information. Individual units will need to work with leadership on how to implement these guidelines in a way that ensures excellent service. Alternative Work Arrangements might be considered for some employees.

To prepare for the start of the new academic year on Wednesday, Aug. 18, units should transition back to the workplace during July and be fully operational on campus by Monday, Aug. 2. Supervisors need to work with their leadership to manage this transition.

As people return to campus, please thank the essential workers who have kept our campus running over the past year. These first responders and front-line workers have done a tremendous service for NMSU and have earned our gratitude.

It may be difficult to understand and prepare for all the challenges facing us during this transition, but we will talk about some of them at the next town hall at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 6. Submit questions in advance, and join us on Zoom or Panopto.

Finally, I have two additional notes. (1) To improve our digital security, ICT is implementing two-factor authentication for NMSU users. I installed this security measure on my computer system two weeks ago, and I invite you to do the same; and (2) NMNotify.com: the New Mexico Department of Health is promoting a phone app that will let you know if you have been exposed to another NMNotify user with COVID-19. You can visit NMNotify for directions on how to access the app on your phone.

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