UTEP announces COVID-19 recovery task force

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Anahy Diaz, Contributor

UTEP President Heather Wilson has announced a COVID-19 recovery task force to help plan the institution’s reopening and prepare for the fall semester.  

According to an email by Wilson, the university has compiled a group of faculty and staff members to be part of UTEP’s COVID-19 recovery task force that will focus on guiding the university to resume campus operations.  

“There are a lot of questions to be answered and details to be worked out,” Wilson wrote in the email, which comes  47 days after she announced UTEP’s shift to online classes. “This kind of work is best done by a cross-functional team that can create subcommittees or call on special expertise as needed.” 

The task force is being led by Stephen Crites, Ph.D., the Dean of UTEP’s Graduate School along with 22 other members that consist of professors, university staff and a student.  

According to Wilson, the team will be responsible on developing and providing recommendations to UTEP’s leadership team on actions, timelines, resources needed, and policies and procedures related to the campus reopening.  

They will also address course delivery methods, facilities that will remain closed or partially open, human resources policies, training, health monitoring protocols, and other matters that, in the view of the group, need to be addressed. 

“I am grateful to Dr. Crites for his leadership, and to each of the task force members for stepping up to offer their expertise and careful thinking,” Wilson wrote. “I know they take this responsibility seriously, and I have confidence that, together, we will develop a recovery plan that will keep our campus community safe and continue to provide our students with the exceptional education they have come to expect.” 

The announcement also comes a day after Gov. Greg Abbott announced his plan to reopen Texas during a press conference. Beginning Friday, May 1, restaurants, theaters and malls can open but only serve a limited number of patrons.  

“Opening Texas must occur in phases,” Abbott said. “Obviously, not all businesses can open all at once. A more strategic approach is required to ensure that we don’t reopen only to have to close down again.” 

As of April 28,  25,297 positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Texas, with El Paso County having 802 confirmed cases.  

The complete list of the COVID-19 recovery task force members can be found at https://www.utep.edu/ehs/COVID-19/coronavirus-update.html , along with Wilson’s full statement.  

Anahy Diaz may be reached at [email protected]