- Associated Press - Thursday, June 18, 2020

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State University is rolling out plans for students, faculty and staff as they prepare to return to campus in the fall.

The document released this week outlines the steps the university will take to ensure what officials said would be a “welcoming and functioning campus environment” when classes begin Aug. 19.

Vice Chancellor Ruth Johnston in a memo to employees said the plan is a living document and the university expected to get feedback from the community during a virtual town hall Thursday afternoon on ways it can be refined and improved.

“We know that updates will be needed as the knowledge about this disease advances and best practices evolve,” she said.

Under the plan, every office that directly works with students will need to be operational during regular business hours no later than Aug. 3. Although these offices will be open, officials said staffing levels across campus will be between 25% and 50% of normal to reduce opportunities for viral spread.

The plan includes details about health and safety modifications to housing and dining facilities, cleaning and disinfection protocols, face coverings and how to report and respond to a positive test for COVID-19. All students also will have to complete training before August.

The number of positive tests in New Mexico now stands at 10,153. McKinley and San Juan counties continue to account for more than half of the cases.

State health officials on Thursday also reported an additional four deaths, bringing the total to 456. The latest included a female in her 30s from McKinley County who had no underlying conditions.

In other developments:

- New Mexico’s busiest judicial district, which covers the Albuquerque area, announced Thursday it was closing for the next two days for cleaning after an employee tested positive. The court announced last week that two other employees had tested positive, and the areas where they worked were cleaned. None of the employees had exhibited any symptoms.

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