“Texas remains a COVID hot spot with a recent positivity rate among those tested for the virus of more than 20 percent.” Pat Heintzelman, president of TFA and an instructor at Lamar University in Beaumont. “Some universities in Texas are not asking students to quarantine before they come to campus, they are not testing any of the students before they begin classes and they are not even checking their temperatures before they check into the dorms or come to class,” she said.

The Texas Faculty Association (TFA) today called on Texas colleges and universities to adopt – and enforce – strict safety standards as campuses reopen for the fall semester.

These steps must include, at a minimum, required mask-wearing in all campus buildings and public areas; social distancing; COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff before they return to campuses; and regular screening of students, employees and visitors for COVID symptoms throughout the year.

“Every higher education institution, public or private, must put the health and safety of everyone on campus first and foremost if they reopen their doors while the coronavirus continues to kill and hospitalize thousands of Texans a day,” said Pat Heintzelman, president of TFA and an instructor at Lamar University in Beaumont.

“Texas remains a COVID hot spot with a recent positivity rate among those tested for the virus of more than 20 percent.”

Heintzelman said some of the faculty recommendations are stronger than guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, for example, recommends six feet for social distancing in classrooms. The faculty group is urging more space than that, based on recent research at the University of Florida showing that the coronavirus can spread as far as 16 feet through aerosols (tiny droplets) released into the air. 

“Some universities in Texas are not asking students to quarantine before they come to campus, they are not testing any of the students before they begin classes and they are not even checking their temperatures before they check into the dorms or come to class,” she said.

“How many asymptomatic students will be sitting in our classrooms because we did not test them?  How many will come in with fever because we did not take the time to check their temperatures? As a result, how many other students and faculty members will be infected with this potentially deadly disease?”

Heintzelman proposed a series of wellness checkpoints at campus entrances for commuting students, employees and visitors and at dorms or classroom building entrances when students head to class.

“These wellness checks are not too much to ask of the universities, and all faculty, staff and students should be checked,” she said.  “Baylor University sent out 18,000 tests to their students and will require a negative test before any student can enter campus.” “Random testing should be done throughout the semester as long as this virus is still spreading uncontrollably like it is now in Texas,” Heintzelman added. “Texas faculty members take their