Spring 2021 Health, Classroom, and Environment in Brief

Mandatory Training

All employees are required to take ‘Bringing Back the Pack: Phasing Our Return to Full Operations' training in Learning Central to learn about how to safely return and operate while on campus.

Masks Required in Public Spaces

In accordance with state regulations, a mask or appropriate face covering must be worn by all individuals in all public spaces. All areas of UNM campuses and classrooms are public spaces, with the exception of offices or office areas used by a single individual or used in accordance with supervisor scheduling for social distancing. Face shields do not meet health and safety standards - a cloth or filter material mask is required. Employees, including faculty, staff, and student employees, who do not wear masks appropriately in their workspaces may be subject to disciplinary action.  Students who do not wear mask may be subject to discipline thru the Dean of Students Office.

Employees are encouraged to procure their own masks, but if unable to, these will be provided. Individuals are responsible for regular cleaning of their own masks. Units should stock spare masks to provide for those who forget to bring a personal mask to campus, or to replace a worn-out mask, if necessary. Units should stock some spare masks to provide for those who forget to bring a personal mask to campus. See the STUDENT HEALTH REQUIREMENTS section of this document for more information on how to protect your classroom environment by requiring masks.


Business operations and office spaces are to limit occupancy to 25% of normal limits (based on fire marshal occupancy limits). Formal class experiences that include an essential face-to-face element must operate with masks and social distancing of at least 6 feet. Seats have been removed from classrooms, or, in the case of fixed seating, marked, to ensure this requirement. Depending on room geometry, this generally reduces rooms to one-third of normal seating capacity and to less than 25% of fire marshal limits. Classrooms should have a posting of COVID-19 Safe maximum capacity, have marked entries and exits, and remember that mask wearing is mandatory.


Consistent university signage indicating necessary social distancing demarcations, health protocols, and space occupancy, and directional flow of movement will be posted throughout campus and in classrooms and should also be used by individual units. The External Communications Task Force has put together a repository of signs for departmental and building use.

Hand Washing and Sanitizer Stations

Individuals on campus should wash hands with soap and water regularly and avoid touching their faces. Facilities Management and Safety & Risk Services have installed hand sanitizer stations in common areas and near elevators. Common areas include main public entryways, corridors, and break rooms where no sink and soap dispensers exist.

Daily Symptoms Reporting

Faculty, Students, and Staff will be required to report if they have symptoms through the ‘Daily Symptoms Reporting’ system before being cleared to come onto campus. A daily e-mail message, "covidscreen@unm.edu" directs individuals to a simple symptom screener. (Some individuals without internet access may use paper reporting). See STUDENT HEALTH REQUIREMENTS).


Detection of nucleic acid of the virus in respiratory secretions (nasopharyngeal, nasal and others) is currently the best way to detect that a person is infected. Symptomatic students, faculty, and staff as well as those who have been in contact with diagnosed individuals are the highest priority for testing. For students, SHAC will provide appropriate direction to a testing center, in coordination with the UNM Rapid Response Taskforce who are responsible for the intervention testing strategy. Faculty and Staff may access screening and testing via services, such as UNMH Respiratory Care Center (RCC), listed here: https://cv.nmhealth.org/public-health-screening-and-testing/.

Contact Tracing

UNM is working with the New Mexico Department of Health to conduct contact tracing on positive cases of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.  UNM has hired additional contact tracers who have been trained and functionally managed by NMDOH, to focus on contact tracing for UNM related infections. UNM also does rapid interventional tracing using our own internal team managed by a Rapid Response Taskforce, and the number of interventional tracers has been increased for the Spring 2021 term. 

Students who test positive should contact Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), 505-277-3136, which will collect information in support of these efforts, provide student guidance regarding health recommendations, coordinate with housing to facilitate isolation and return to classes, and coordinate with facilities for environmental cleaning and decontamination.

Faculty and staff who test positive should self-report(see below) and contact UNM Employee Occupational Health Services (EOHS), 505-272-9199, which will coordinate with NMDOH and provide guidance and support on health recommendations and isolation. Contact tracers will contact faculty, students, and staff about possible exposures.

Self Reporting

UNM has implemented a policy for self-reporting (política de autoinforme) either symptoms of or a positive test for COVID-19 in order to support efforts to slow the spread of infection. This is both to connect Lobos to resources that can support them, and to help the University assess the community impact of the virus. It does not apply to the UNM Health Sciences Center, for which a separate HSC policy has been developed.

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar/Schedule for Main Campus and Branch Campuses

Most UNM classes will begin with a remote instruction week, starting January 19th, 2021 (see HSC and Law School information on specific programs).  Any face-to-face class meetings can commence on January 25th, 2021.  Spring break will occur as normally, from xxxx to xxxx.  Instruction will end on May 8, and final exams will be scheduled for May 10 through May 15.  Final exams in exam week (May 10-15) should be planned as remote finals. Please take note of the final exam schedule and, if you are offering a remote arranged course, make sure that your students have a broad time window for completing your exam that is compatible with completion of regularly scheduled exams.

Please see https://registrar.unm.edu/semester-deadline-dates/spring-2021.html. The Spring course schedule provides information about course delivery modality with indications about times/locations for face-to-face and/or remote classes. This video for students explains how to understand course delivery modality indications on the  schedule: https://vimeo.com/435746729.

Health, Accessibility, and Mental Health

Faculty, staff, and students at high risk for complications from COVID-19 should coordinate with Human Resources (faculty and staff) or the Accessibility Resource Center (students) for support and possible accommodations.  Faculty, staff, and students who are at high risk for complications are not prohibited from campuses, but are encouraged to seek medical guidance, and may seek relevant services or accommodations. Individuals qualified for ADA accommodations relative to the mask requirement, including individuals with documented health concerns such as asthma, should consult with Accessibility Resources Center (students) and Human Resources (faculty and staff).

Mental health resources are described and can be accessed via mentalhealth.unm.edu.  This has proven to be a challenging area for our students, faculty and staff.  Please be mindful of the impacts of isolation, both on your own well-being and on the well-being of those around you.  

Re-Opening Approval Process and Presence on Campus

Departments must submit a formal Facility Re-open Request on the Facility Re-open Request website in consultation with their Dean. As part of the request, Facilities Management is notified to prepare your area utilizing custodial services, maintenance services, HVAC checks, and to install signage in common areas. Safety & Risk Services will review the department’s plan to determine if an inspection is required. Departmental Chairs and Directors complete these requests in coordination with their dean or supervisor. Academic Affairs must sign off on requests.


Classrooms will be set up for six-foot radius social distancing and with clear occupancy labeling. Cleaning protocols require thorough and regular classroom cleaning including cleaning of surfaces.  When structurally possible and consistent with best use of HVAC and health considerations of occupants, windows and doors can be open. Movement in and out of classrooms and buildings will be guided by social distancing signage. Academic technologies has enhanced 150 centrally scheduled classrooms with a camera and microphone for basic remote participant access. A limited number of outdoor spaces are available for courses with special requirements, and must be reserved through scheduling. Ad hoc unscheduled outdoor teaching may put the UNM community at risk.

Minimizing Exposure in Labs

Use of laboratory spaces, fabrication facilities, and similar creative work spaces requires limited occupancy to 25% or less, the use of covid safe practices, including masks and six-foot social distancing like class room spaces, as well as daily symptom screening (thru the daily online system) and maintenance of an occupancy log. When six-foot distancing cannot be maintained (e.g. when moving equipment or using technology that requires multiple operators in closer proximity) additional attention to health protocols and additional and extensive PPE will be required.

All instructional labs and class room spaces will have COVID maximum occupancy signs posted.


UNM IT has been working with Colleges and Schools and Academic Affairs to provide Faculty and Students with technology support for the academic year. This includes support for UNM Learn, Zoom Web conferencing, Kaltura for lecture capture and video delivery, new cameras and microphones for remote participation in centrally scheduled classrooms, student laptop and hotspot checkout programs, faculty/student software licensing and access, and computer lab support in the context of COVID Safe Practices. More information on services can be found at http://cio.unm.edu/services-at-a-glance.html. Guidance to students on computer and internet specifications is forthcoming at computing.unm.edu.

Stringent Regular Custodial Procedures

Custodial staff are cleaning common areas twice a day and they are using cleaning chemicals that are safe for the environment while disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces.

Department or Unit Cleaning Protocols

Departments are required to develop and implement internal cleaning procedures and protocols for employees to follow, including for departmentally maintained classrooms. Check with your supervisor for items specific to your work area so you can do your part to minimize the spread of germs and risk of infection. Take responsibility for disinfecting personal work spaces and collaborate with supervisor’s plans to create a safe shared workspace


The University has restricted university-related travel until further notice, with limited exceptions for travel essential to University operations. We are carefully evaluating all university-related travel, including by car, to high incidence areas outside of and within the state on a case-by-case basis. Extended student internships or rotations necessary for degree progress are permissible and entail 14-day quarantine on re-entry of the state. See the detailed policy, including information of faculty candidate interviews, https://bringbackthepack.unm.edu/.

Research Facilities, Labs, Studios, Maker Spaces

These spaces were subject to the re-opening approval process in the fall term, and must continue to operate under their safety plans and Covid Safe Practices, and must incorporate thorough guidelines for social distancing and safety.  See the research section of this website for more information.

Student, Staff, Faculty Adminstrative and Support Services

Support offices for students, staff, and faculty will continue to offer predominately remote services with some limited in-person services available on a scheduled basis and subject to UNM health protocols, including mask requirement, social distancing, and other hygiene measures. It is critical that faculty learn about support services for students on campus and provide kind referrals. For an overview, see: https://studentaffairs.unm.edu/student-services/index.html and https://dos.unm.edu

Faculty Development and Instructional Support

Center for Teaching and Learning provides information and guidelines about best teaching practices on its website, information about how to use online tools, including UNMLearn and tools integrated into UNMLearn, and offersfaculty development relative to remote and face-to-face plus remote teaching, including webinars, open labs, and one-on-one consultations. See https://cdl.unm.edu. Please be aware that UNM students, especially freshmen and sophomores, often need significant support in time management and use of learning platforms and report difficulty engaging with asynchronous classes.  Please don't assume that digital natives are necessarily comfortable with and skilled at remote learning.

Campus Gyms, Dining Facilities, and the SUB

The Johnson Center will maintain limited and reservation only access to specific facilities, including the cardio room, weight room, and pool, operating under Covid Safe Practices as required by the state.

The SUB will be open for UNM community members only, for take-out dining.  You will be required to swipe your Lobo card to enter the SUB, so have it with you at all times.

Student Housing & Residential Life

The total number of students accommodated by campus housing in the Spring has been reduced so that all residents will have their own bedrooms and bathrooms or bathroom fixtures will be in a ratio no greater than 1:4. Separate housing to accommodate pre-diagnosis waiting periods as well as isolation has been allocated.  Students will be required to follow strict health protocols and may be asked to leave student housing if they do not. Housing is prioritized for first-year students from outside the Albuquerque area.


Buses and shuttles are thoroughly disinfected. Social distancing and mask wearing are in effect. Cleaning protocols are in place to wipe down handrails, overhead rails, and seatbacks every two hours. Drivers are protected by plastic curtains.