SHSU Recognized For COVID-19 Response
Nov. 3, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
Sam Houston State University has been selected as a 2021 Star Award recipient by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) based on its overall response to ensure the health, safety and success – including student success – of its campus and local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For 2021, the THECB recognized 10 institutions of higher education for their outstanding efforts. The Star Award honors those institutions that ensured the health, safety and success of their campus community through innovative approaches and local partnerships.
Due to the pandemic, SHSU, like other institutions of higher education, faced unprecedented challenges in education preparation and delivery. Sam Houston State’s response began as the coronavirus first emerged in January 2020. The university developed a multi-faceted plan with several goals: prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus; develop mitigation strategies and safety protocols; and facilitate a gradual and coordinated return to campus, including the reintegration of students.
“This accolade is testament to the outstanding work of many individuals,” President Alisa White said. “There was a concerted effort between health professionals, academics and numerous staff, all who went above and beyond to help our students navigate through the hardships brought on by the pandemic and make our campus a safer environment.”
During the pandemic, the university adapted to improve efficiencies on campus including safety signage, upgraded filtration and HVAC systems and UV lighting, sanitizer stations, personal protective equipment for faculty, free COVID testing and vaccination clinics, technology assistance for students and enhanced mental health services.
The university also extended its reach beyond the campus boundaries to improve the health and well-being of the City of Huntsville and Walker County with joint testing programs and food distribution for those most vulnerable in our communities. Additionally, Robert Williams, MD, director of medical services at SHSU Student Health Center, was appointed a Local Health Authority, providing the university with more streamlined and ready access to regional medical experts.
Heightened campus communications efforts included social media campaigns and a comprehensive COVID-19 website, which received more than 817,000 visits. The university created and distributed 30 videos/public service announcements, developed and hosted informational town halls and produced 70 news articles resulting in extensive media coverage in media outlets including local ABC, CBS and FOX affiliates, and National Public Radio.
Today, there are still mitigation strategies in place, however, students at Sam Houston State are thriving and healthy with the number of COVID cases drastically reduced from one year ago.
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