West Texas A&M University plans to safely resume on-campus classes and operations in time for the start of the Fall 2020 semester.
“Chancellor John Sharp told the presidents and agency heads to plan to be open and operational this fall – to plan how to do it safely with testing and contact tracing and involving our Health Science Center personnel to ensure the welfare of our students, faculty and staff,” said Laylan Copelin, Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications at The Texas A&M University System. “That means in-person instruction and playing football safely for our players and fans.
“Obviously, the final decision is left to the Governor, the Board of Regents and the NCAA,” Copelin continued, “but Chancellor Sharp charged the A&M System leadership to come up with a plan to achieve the goal of re-opening this fall. Chancellor Sharp concluded: ‘Make this happen.’”
“We will be diligent in working toward that aspiration,” said WT President Dr. Walter Wendler. “Our plan is to safely resume in-person classes and on-campus activities, to meet together as organizations and to cheer on our athletic teams.
“We will not forget what challenges and trials we went through this spring. We will use this to make us better Buffaloes,” Wendler continued. “Safety and health will continue to be our highest priority. Returning to campus means enhanced safety protocols and a new way of life.”
Initial plans call for a phased-return approach, as well as continuing social-distancing and safety protocols in classrooms, labs and residence halls. Recommendations will be developed regarding the use of protective masks, testing and contact-tracing, and other safety measures. The University also is developing ways to reduce the density of groups in student facilities, large lecture-based classrooms and popular campus areas. These same plans extend to special events, including athletics.
“Fall instruction will involve a blend of online and face-to-face classes for some students, and we will be flexible in all areas across campus,” said Dr. Neil Terry, executive vice president and provost. “We know some inconveniences will arise, but those will be necessary as we take every precaution to ensure the safety of the WT family and maintain the academic rigor of our programs.”
Meanwhile, the first summer session of classes will be fully online. If conditions permit, the Summer II session may include some face-to-face instruction.
“The phased return to campus during the summer months will allow us the opportunity to test the protocols and policies that will guide the re-opening of campus in the fall,” Wendler said. “As we continue to work through this planning, we will provide additional communications with more details in a timely manner.”.