LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Administrators at New Mexico State University know they’re headed into a fall semester this week facing a spike in COVID-19 cases, but they still hope to make campus life as normal as possible.
NMSU Vice Chancellor and Chief COVID-19 Officer Ruth Johnston said they’ve tightened protocols, meaning students and system employees at all five campuses will need to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a weekly basis, beginning September 30.
“And the reason for that was not because we wanted to delay things or make our community less safe,” said Johnston. “In fact, we wanted to give people the opportunity to be able to get the vaccine if they hadn’t already.”
The University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College have both issued similar policies, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Free vaccination clinics and testing sites are planned for the main and branch campuses.
Johnston said now that the Delta variant is spreading, both faculty and students must mask-up.
“We have to wear masks indoors, at all times, all of us, vaccinated or unvaccinated,” said Johnston. “So we’re making deliberate, intentional decisions for the greater good of the community to try to be as safe as we possibly can be.”
The exception to masks indoors will be presentations from professors in an auditorium where they’re able to be at least six feet from students.
Johnston says outdoor masking for large events is not currently required. She expects protocols to evolve over the course of the school year, but adds that precautions being taken align with the governor’s larger directive for state employees.