Texas A&M Outlines University Protocols For Crowds Amid COVID-19 Virus
Aug. 11, 2020
As Texas A&M University reopens for in-person fall classes, administrators said they plan to continue following state rules limiting the number of outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people. For groups wanting to exceed that number, they must follow university protocols announced earlier this month, as well as a state-mandated process that includes securing permission from local authorities.
Organizers of expressive activities also are required to follow those rules, officials said, adding that the A&M campus saw several peaceful protests over the summer.
In anticipation of future events drawing large crowds, security officials plan to place temporary fencing around the Sul Ross statue in Academic Plaza before classes begin. Anyone who is not authorized to go behind the fencing is subject to disciplinary action. The barrier is expected to remain for as long as the situation indicates it is needed.
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young said the safety of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors always are at the forefront of decision-making.
“We encourage free expression — debating and deliberating are healthy, essential conversations,” said Young. “We expect everyone to treat each other with respect and to be safe, especially in the midst of a pandemic.”
More than 5 million COVID-19 cases have been documented in the United States since the disease hit in early spring; almost 162,000 people have died. In Brazos County where Texas A&M resides, 4,092 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported with 311 being active as of Tuesday; 49 residents have died.
The university protocols for large gatherings and space restrictions were developed in compliance with Texas Executive Orders & Public Health Disaster Declarations, Texas A&M University System guidance and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing recommendations for reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Following are highlights of the new protocols:
- Those seeking to use indoor or outdoor spaces reserved through University Center & Special Events (UCEN) should review the General Meeting Requirements for Events in Response to COVID-19.
- The protocol for outdoor gatherings that exceed more than 10 persons will remain in effect until Sept. 18 which marks 30 days following the first day of fall classes.
- University units and Sponsored Student Organizations may reserve outdoor space being used for university authorized events and sponsored activities through the University Center reservation process or appropriate reserving authority.
- All other student organizations, persons or groups of more than 10 persons wishing to exercise use of A&M’s traditional public forums and/or three reservable designated forums, must receive approval from the College Station Mayor’s office. Gov. Greg Abbott mandated requiring local approval through executive orders (GA-28 and GA-28 Amended), which means the requestor must secure that approval before starting the process to reserve space on campus through the University Center.
Approval does not guarantee space availability or campus approval. Texas A&M’s principle mission is education and research and therefore reserves the right during this pandemic to restrict use of space in manners that could further jeopardize the ability to meet its mission.
Requestors also must follow guidelines in Appendix XI of the Texas A&M Student Rules regarding freedom of expression.