UTEP won’t be fully open in the spring, expects no mask requirement

UTEP+expects+that+the+novel+coronavirus+will+still+be+present+by+Spring+2021%2C+so+the+university+won%27t+be+fully+open+any+time+soon.

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UTEP expects that the novel coronavirus will still be present by Spring 2021, so the university won’t be fully open any time soon.

Anahy Diaz, Copy Editor

UTEP informed its students in an university-wide email that it will continue to offer a combination of online, hybrid and in-person classes for Spring 2021, anticipating that COVID-19 will likely still be present in the community by next year.  

In that email, UTEP President Heather Wilson said she expects the university to operate at “medium density” next semester based on its reopening strategy, which also means that in-person courses won’t be at full capacity because of social distancing requirements.

This means that social distancing will still be required, but there won’t be a mask requirement or supplemental cleaning.

The email also states that the Spring 2021 schedule, which is now available to UTEP students through Goldmine, was prepared by the institution’s staff to protect people’s health, maintain student progress toward degrees, continue to advance research and create a culture of using best health practices.  

Currently, UTEP is at “low density operations” which is a moderate status that only allows on-campus work for those with an approved work and safety plan.  

“Many of you have told us how challenging it is to learn entirely online,” Wilson wrote. “We hear you and we will be working to increase opportunities for direct, meaningful interactions with faculty members in online work.” 

This includes increasing the availability of select courses in 8-week mini terms , which Wilson said will allow students to “focus their attention on a smaller number of courses at a time while maintaining the same progress toward their degrees.”

In addition, UTEP is set to partner with LinkedIn Learning, an e-learning resource that will provide students, faculty and staff free access to more than 16,000 professional development workshops, the email states.

According to the news release, UTEP also hopes to increase engagement once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available by creating more in-person study groups, reactivating clubs and organizations, and expanding co-curricular engaged learning and research opportunities. 

“We know that a rich college experience is something that positively impacts your well-being in many ways,” Wilson said. “That is why, if a vaccine does become widely available in the spring, we will be creative and engage you in ways that not only build a sense of community, but also stimulate your academic and intellectual growth.”  

However, Wilson also mentioned the University is very early in its planning, so suggestions or ideas about things UTEP students and faculty would like to see are being welcomed via email at [email protected]. 

“I am proud of the efforts of our students, faculty and staff to keep the campus community safe through this difficult situation,” Wilson said. “I am also inspired by your (students, faculty and staff) perseverance and creativity in addressing the challenges this semester has presented.” 

For more information regarding UTEP’s plans for resuming campus operations, visit it’s campus reopening page. To view UTEP’s registration calendar for Spring 2021, visit the university’s registration website.

Anahy Diaz may be reached at [email protected]; @by_anahydiaz on Twitter.