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NMSU reminds campus visitors that masks, social distancing are required

New Mexico State University’s Las Cruces campus continues to allow community members to access outdoor spaces for walking, exercising and enjoying the sunshine, but university leaders are reminding visitors to all NMSU system campuses that they must comply with state public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that closing campus is an option if needed.


Four masked students walking
New Mexico State University’s Las Cruces campus continues to allow community members to access outdoor spaces for walking, exercising and enjoying the sunshine, but university leaders are reminding visitors to all NMSU system campuses that they must comply with state public health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that closing campus is an option if needed. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)

The latest health order, available at https://cv.nmhealth.org/public-health-orders-and-executive-orders, requires residents to wear a mask and practice social distancing of at least 6 feet in all public spaces – indoors and out – except while eating, drinking or swimming. While previous orders allowed exceptions for all types of exercise, the order issued on July 30 narrows the exercise exception to swimming, meaning that runners and walkers using the public spaces on the Las Cruces campus like Sisbarro Park must wear a mask while doing so. Masks are also required when riding bicycles.

NMSU buildings are not currently open to the public, and access is only allowed for university business. Guidelines for visitors to campus are outlined as part of the university system’s NMSU Ready comprehensive return-to-campus plan, available online at https://ready.nmsu.edu.

“As a university, we are committed to creating a campus environment that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said NMSU Vice Chancellor and Chief COVID-19 Officer Ruth A. Johnston. “Our teams have worked tirelessly this summer to modify classrooms and buildings, install signs with information about expectations, and collect data to help guide our decision-making.

“An important part of our success as we bring students back to our campuses this fall relies on the personal responsibility of our students, employees and visitors,” Johnston continued. “It’s up to each and every person in our Aggie community to help keep themselves, their fellow Aggies, and the surrounding communities in which we live and work as safe as we can.”

That personal responsibility applies both on and off campus, Johnston said. To help students understand the expectations on them for behaviors that will help reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, NMSU students will start the fall semester by acknowledging the “Crimson Commitment.” The safety commitment mirrors the expectations placed on staff and faculty in their return-to-campus training course, and reinforces guidelines about social distancing, mask-wearing and hand-washing, as well as the requirement to report a positive COVID-19 test result right away to the Aggie Health & Wellness Center at 575-646-7375 or campus_health@nmsu.edu. A video explaining the Crimson Commitment is available at https://youtu.be/o5GHCTw9iPA.

“Our students and employees are part of the broader community, so we expect them to carry that responsibility and respect into every business they patronize and every public space they visit outside of our campus, too,” Johnston said. “We’re asking our faculty and staff to model this behavior for our students, and for everyone to step up and encourage others to follow those safety guidelines – and we would like to ask our community and business partners to model the same.”

Additional signs emphasizing mask and social distancing requirements are being installed across the Las Cruces campus. If campus employees, students or visitors see individuals or groups without masks and don’t feel comfortable encouraging them to put their mask on, they can call the NMSU Police Department at 575-646-3311 to report the incident, or send an email to covid19@nmsu.edu. Other avenues for reporting problems with compliance involving students or employees include the Dean of Students Office at dos@nmsu.edu or Human Resource Services at hrs@nmsu.edu.

NMSU has also developed a new online self-check and self-reporting portal, available on the university’s homepage, https://nmsu.edu or on the https://ready.nmsu.edu site, to help with screening and contact tracing. Students, employees and visitors are encouraged to perform a daily self-check and register locations visited on campus to help Aggie Health & Wellness contact tracers identify additional potential contacts.

Many questions about the NMSU Ready return-to-campus plan are answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section at https://ready.nmsu.edu. Other questions may be directed to covid19@nmsu.edu.