University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes, in consultation with University leadership, announced on Monday an extension of the institution’s current limited operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic from May 18 to June 1.
UNM moved to limited operations on March 17 utilizing a tiered system to classify employees into three tiers. Only Tier 1 personnel should continue reporting to work on campus, while all others will continue working remotely as they have been doing.
“We will continue to evaluate a phased in return to campus that is aligned with local, state and federal guidance regarding COVID-19 and recommendations to protect the health and safety of our community. It’s looking more and more likely that even by fall, much of the state will still be operating under some type of social distancing requirements, as well as some limitations on group sizes.
UNM, with its multi-faceted operations, has much more to consider when looking at its overall operations and re-opening. There’s much more to reopening than moving students safely in and out of classrooms and lecture halls, or conduct top-tier research with scientists six feet apart.
“UNM operates much like its own kind of city,” said Stokes. “UNM is open 24 hours a day, with its own citizens and visitors, infrastructure and transportation, police department and parking services, restaurants and gyms, housing and warehouses, libraries and theaters, football fields and hospitals . . . the list goes on. Returning—in any capacity—means having comprehensive and flexible plans for all areas of our enterprise.”
The list Stokes’ refers to includes how UNM manages housing, dining and other student services; how to safely conduct events; how to develop a process and protocol for testing the Lobo community for the COVID-19 virus.
“These are questions and scenarios we have got to deal with—all while coordinating with and following directives from state and local government,” Stokes said. “Working together, we’re always hoping for the best, but smartly preparing for the worst—your health and safety, and our ability to weather the challenges ahead demands it.”
UNM—much like every other university in the state and across the nation—will be doing its long-term planning amid a budget shortfall. Moving forward, University administrators will be making both short- and long-term plans for budgets and operations, enrollment, personnel, instruction, research capability, health care services and much more.
“There is little question that the budget challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic are becoming painfully obvious, both here at UNM and across New Mexico," said Stokes. "With less than two months left in this fiscal year, I would like to ask all of you to show the same level of innovation and commitment to our mission that you have shown for the past several weeks and apply it to how you evaluate and determine necessary expenditures.”