Weekly Address from Mary Faria: Summer Week 1

Dear AOMA Family,

I hope this email finds everyone safe and healthy. The last few months have been unprecedented but I’m so thankful for the amazing team at AOMA. Everyone has pulled together to help us manage through this very challenging time. This week Summer 20 term begins with some practical classes beginning on Monday. Last week some of our Professionals began seeing patients at our North Clinic. The last 8 weeks pilot teams have worked very hard to ensure safe re-opening of our clinics and our campus. I wanted to send this message to answer questions, clarify a few things and invite you to stay in touch via our Daily Briefings, Town Meetings, email communications, newsletters and other sources of information. With this pandemic the new normal is one of uncertainty and constant change. It will require all of us to stay well informed and to be patient with one another as plans and decisions will no doubt be changing as we learn more from our health authorities, as they learn more about COVID.  The following are questions and answers I hope will be helpful as we begin this new Summer term:

  1. What Response and Safety Phase are we currently in at AOMA?

As posted on our website AOMA remains in Phase III (please refer to the website for details) of our COVID response plan. With our re-opening plans we are in Phase I (the most aggressive or conservative in terms of safety measures)

  1. Will students have options for on-line and on-campus during Phase I of campus re-opening?

Yes, as communicated by Dr. Hamilton and Dr. Garrrison, students who do not feel safe coming to campus will be accommodated with on-line options. There will be hands on practical classes and all efforts are being made to ensure the highest level of safety possible. This includes daily screenings for students, faculty and staff.

  1. Will all campus offices be open in Summer 20?

No, we are still in Phase III of our response plan and staff will be primarily working from home for their safety and for yours. Some will have to come to campus as needed for tasks that cannot be accomplished remotely. But we really want to minimize the number of people on campus as that helps us maximize safety.

  1. What is the plan if a student, faculty or staff member get exposed to COVID, have tested positive, or fail screening?

At this time our plan is as follows: If someone fails screening they will have to leave campus and quarantine and may also need to get tested for the virus. If someone was exposed or tested positive, they must be clear of any symptoms for 20 days (per CDC return to work guidelines) to return but may be asked to get tested. This plan may change as we are in conversation with Austin Public Health to validate we are implementing the safest and most appropriate actions. Some situations may require that the individual be tested, some may not. Again, we are awaiting advice on this from Austin Public Health. I can’t emphasize enough that opinions on all of this is changing as authorities learn more about the virus.

  1. Where will daily screenings occur? 

At our south campus everyone can be screened in Building B (enter at entrance between Building A and B), screening times are 8am and 1:30pm.

At our north campus everyone will be screened in the main waiting area,  times are 7:30, 1:30 and 5:30pm.

This video will give you a good idea of the screening process in Building B and what to expect at the North Clinic. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MSuKeC9cTWJW9Hd3DZhds2R-pN2L5YAk/view

Our Safety Response (SWAT)team will do the majority of screenings but there may be a few pro clinics or offices that will allow for self or staff to staff screening but we will try   and minimize this.

  1. Who/What is the Safety Response(SWAT) team, also affectionately known as the COVID Busters 😊?

The team consists of Violet Song, Stephanee Owenby, Ralf Buschmann, Michael Jewell, Camillia Hunter, and Mary Faria. Faculty and key staff will be given their contact information. They will be available for any classroom or clinic safety issues ranging from someone presenting with symptoms to additional PPE or disinfecting supplies. As described above they will do the majority of the daily screenings, so that faculty or others do not have to do this. In short they have committed to assist with any urgent safety issues that may arise during class or clinic.

  1. Will the library re-open for Summer 20 term?

Yes, but access will be limited for safety. There will most likely be visits by appointment and some system of safe check out of books/materials. More information will be provided during the July 20 week. 

  1. We’ve heard about waivers that will be required of all students, faculty and staff. What are these and why?

The waivers are standard during this time of pandemic. It is a formal way to acknowledge that even with all the safety precautions we will take, this virus is challenging to control and the school cannot be held liable. We’ll spend the week of July 20 getting these signed. 

I hope this information is helpful. Please join our Daily Briefings or Town Meetings to stay informed. We will cancel the Tuesday and Thursday 8 am re-opening meetings but find an afternoon time on Tuesday and Thursday that works well for general Town meetings/Briefings in an effort to keep everyone informed and to ensure we have morning and afternoon options for Q&A during this time of constant change. Thank you all so much for your support, your understanding and your patience during this time of challenge and change. As I said earlier this AOMA team is truly amazing – The BEST!

We will get through this pandemic together!

Take care, stay safe and stay healthy (mind, body and spirit). With Love and Peace,

Mary Faria

President & CEO