Weekly Campus Update from UHV President Bob Glenn
The start of the fall semester is now just days away, and the university continues to move toward reopening UHV and UHV Katy. I want to remind you of the precautions you can take that will allow us to safely transition to the return of students to campus.
As of late last week, Citizens Medical Center, right next door to our Victoria campus, had 54 COVID-19 patients. While this is not as many as during the peak last year, it represents a substantial surge. Of those COVID-19 patients, 98 percent are unvaccinated, in keeping with national trends. One thing that is different this time from other surges is that the COVID-19 patients are significantly younger, including some in their 20s and 30s who are very sick. In our six-county region, as of last week, there were 137 hospitalized COVID-19 patients – up from just 25 one month ago. Local medical professionals are emphasizing that vaccination is the key differentiator in preventing hospitalization. The situation in the Houston metropolitan area, which impacts our UHV Katy instructional site, continues to be very serious, and hospital beds are in scarce supply.
Please get vaccinated if you have not already done so. All evidence points to the safety of the vaccines and to their efficacy in preventing COVID-19 infections. There also is considerable evidence that even when a vaccinated person does contract the virus, the effects of the virus are significantly mitigated.
To further encourage vaccination, the Jaguar Vaccination Incentive Program (VIP) for all UHV students who submit proof of vaccination, will launch Wednesday, Aug. 18. Each Jaguar VIP will receive $50 in his or her choice of Jaguar Bucks (to be used at Chick-fil-A, The Market, Jaguar Java or in the Dining Hall) or a credit with the Jag Station bookstore. Look for a communication soon from Jay Lambert, vice president for student affairs, with more details about this incentive campaign.
We will be holding a special vaccination clinic on the UHV campus the week of Sept. 6 and will provide detailed information when it becomes available. There also are other vaccination locations in both Victoria and Katy, which you can find here.
In the event that you have serious questions about getting the vaccination, I strongly encourage you to consult with your personal physician.
Wearing a Face Mask:
You are not required to wear a face mask, in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order. Nonetheless, proper masking has consistently been proven effective in limiting the spread of disease. We continue to strongly encourage the wearing of face coverings, especially by those individuals who are not fully vaccinated, while in public indoor settings. Free masks are available around campus for your use.
Free COVID-19 Testing:
Please remember that there are still several free testing options available in our community. We are asking that you get tested once a week if you have not been vaccinated. Even if you have been vaccinated, it’s prudent to be tested if you have any concerns.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you are advised to report it to the university in accordance with our Employee/Supervisor Diagnosis/Symptoms Protocols or the Student Diagnosis/Symptoms Protocols. The Diagnosis Reporting Form goes directly to the COVID-19 coordinator to ensure confidentiality and quick response, including cleaning and contact tracing, when necessary. It is imperative that we remain well informed about the status of our campus.
Naturally, what is foremost on the minds of students and faculty is how we will address legitimate concerns related to a return to face-to-face classroom instruction. The provost is working with the deans to review currently scheduled classes. An emphasis will be placed on flexibility, using the streaming of live classes to enhance flexibility and safety. Close monitoring of classes will continue for as long as needed to ensure both quality instruction and the safety of everyone involved. As public health guidance is updated, we will adapt our instructional options.
With these precautions and protocols properly implemented, we are excited to welcome each of you back to campus with the knowledge that we are doing the best we can to keep everyone safe. The Reopening Task Force will continue to monitor the situation and, as always, we will remain agile in our ability to adjust our procedures and operations subject to shifting public health guidance. Each week, I will provide a campus update, and I give you my personal assurance that every decision we make going forward will continue to keep the safety and well-being of our campus community in mind.