Department COVID operating plan

The Department of Astronomy offers a graduate degree program; at the undergraduate level, we offer a minor and both General Education and Viewing a Wider World courses. By the nature of our work, we have found that telework is an acceptable way to accomplish things, and most Department personnel have expressed a strong preference to telework. As a result, this will be our default operating mode during the COVID-19 crisis. The Department office and the Department Head will be available during normal business hours by telephone or through open Zoom rooms.

Some presence by faculty, graduate students, and staff in the Department will likely be desired or required for productivity. As a result, we present a policy that allows for very limited presence of personnel in the building:

  • The default for all Department personnel will be to telework. All personnel who are teleworking will be required to forward their office phone to either the Department main office or to a personal telephone number. The Department main office line will be forwarded to one of the office staff or the Department Head.
  • The Department office staff will, as much as is feasible, keep an open Zoom office connection that anyone can call into. This is advertised on our web page.
  • The Astronomy building will remain locked at all times
  • Before entering the building, all personnel are required to complete the Return to Campus training through
  • No personnel will visit the Department if they are sick.
  • If any personnel wish to work at the Department on a semi-regular basis, they will send a request to the Department Head. The Department Head will consider such requests if the total number of such requests is lower than the guidelines for building occupancy and if the workspace is defined and limited to a single person. If there are a larger number of requests (which is not anticipated at this time), a schedule will be developed to ensure that occupancy guidelines and single person per office will be achieved. Permission to work at the Department can be revoked at any time, effective immediately, based on employee compliance with protocols or other changes in the COVID-19 situation. The Department head will maintain and post a schedule.
  • All personnel visiting the Department for any reason will be required to log the time and location of their visit via a Google spreadsheet. If at all possible, this will be recorded at least 1 hour in advance so others can consult and plan to visit at non-conflicting times. Ideally, only one person will be present at a time, apart from approved personnel who may be working in individual offices per previous bullet. Under no circumstances will the number of people in the building exceed the maximum occupancy fractions that are in effect at any time.
  • Only one person can be in any given office at any time.
  • All personnel visiting the Department will practice social distancing, and will wear a face covering outside of their office.
  • All personnel visiting the Department will wash hands frequently, and will attempt to disinfect common surfaces before and after use. Special care should be taken when using restrooms, ensuring only a single person at a time, and being extra-vigilant to avoid possible exposure.
  • If any personnel develop COVID-19 symptoms and/or are tested positive for COVID-19, they will immediately notify the Department Head and the Aggie Health and Wellness Center. If said personnel have been in the Department, no one will be permitted to go to the Department for a minimum of 72 hours. All personnel will be notified to determine whether possible exposure has taken place.
  • The Department will rely on Facilities and Services to be routinely cleaning/disinfecting the building.
  • All NMSU policies must be followed. Any NMSU policies take precedent over any Department policies.