In preparation for students returning to campus, Texas A&M has announced university protocols for crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a campus-wide email, A&M said it will continue to follow the state rule limiting outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, and groups wanting to exceed that number must follow university protocol announced Aug. 7.
One of the most notable changes students can expect is a temporary fence around the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue in Academic Plaza that will be placed before classes begin in anticipation of large crowds.
Ross was a Confederate general and former A&M President whose statue has attracted multiple peaceful protests over the summer.
A&M President Michael K. Young said health has been at the forefront of decision making.
"We encourage free expression - debating and deliberating are healthy, essential conversations," Young said in the email. "We expect everyone to treat each other with respect and to be safe, especially in the midst of a pandemic."
The barrier around Sul Ross is expected to stay “for as long as the situation indicates it is needed,” and any unauthorized persons who go behind the fencing are subject to disciplinary action.
Additional guidance in the email states that university units and sponsored student organizations are the only entities that may reserve outdoor space for university authorized events and sponsored activities.
“All other student organizations, persons or groups of more than 10 persons wishing to exercise use of A&M's traditional public forums and/or three reservable designated forums, must receive approval from the College Station Mayor's office,” the email states. “Gov. Greg Abbott mandated requiring local approval through executive orders (GA-28 and GA-28 Amended), which means the requestor must secure that approval before starting the process to reserve space on campus through the University Center.”