Sam Houston State University held its Annual Faculty & Staff Meeting featuring an address from President Alisa White on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. After honoring outstanding faculty and staff, White addressed the growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SHSU recently moved its COVID-19 campus response level from a level one to a level two. White said the reason for the move serves as a statement to further encourage campus community members to follow guidelines.
“There is no bright line, it is a judgement call,” White said. “When I looked at the data and when I looked at what was happening around the country, I would have really had us on level two all summer and I just decided that I wanted to go ahead and make that happen as a statement. Hey guys come on, let’s really focus on compliance where we are.”
White apologized for the delay in communicating the shift in response levels and explained that, while she thought she could communicate it the previous week, the recent hurricane led to that delay. She also commended the university’s emergency response team for their hard work surrounding the hurricane.
White said she worries that if people are not responsible on Labor Day, we could see a rise in cases.
“We expected an uptick in cases two weeks after the start of the semester, and we got one, just as there was after Memorial Day, after the Fourth of July, and we weren’t surprised,” White said. “I’m a little nervous about this weekend. Labor Day weekend is almost here. We need to be extra diligent to avoid a surge in cases related to the long weekend’s festivities. I’ve asked people not to have those festivities and I’m hoping that they don’t.”
White said that SHSU is looking at ways to improve the campus response to COVID-19, such as increasing cleaning and sanitizing protocols, monitoring active cases and hospital capacity.
“We’re looking at additional ways that we can operate for the long term,” White said. “Making us, again, one of the safest environments that would be public facing. I am committed to working with you to figure this out and to foster an environment where students can be successful, and how we practice service to others, and I believe we can do it.”
White encouraged those with problems related to university COVID-19 guidelines to contact Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Drew Miller, who is leading a cross-divisional COVID-19 team. They will discuss, coordinate, solve problems and make recommendations regularly to SHSU’s cabinet, White said.
The group will begin putting out a state of the campus correspondence every Thursday night to provide more information and resources to the campus community, White said.
White ended her address by thanking faculty and staff for welcoming her and expressing her enthusiasm to be at SHSU.
“Even in this weird time, I’m excited to be here, I’m excited about the future and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside you,” White said. “Thank you for believing in your university, thank you for allowing me to join you, good things are still to come.”