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As we approach the start of the fall semester, we know many students have questions about the months ahead. The fluid nature of the pandemic creates more uncertainty than any of us have ever faced at the start of a new academic year. WT plans to resume face-to-face instruction and activities; however, safety protocols and evolving circumstances will make it necessary to place limitations and modifications on fact-to-face instruction and campus activities. 

While providing definitive answers amid evolving information is an extreme challenge, we feel it is important to share a general consensus related to a variety of issues. This information is intended to help you make informed decisions that best fit your personal and professional pursuits as you prepare for the fall term.

What follows are common questions and our best efforts to respond given current information. The questions and answers below and related information can be found on the WT COVID-19 information page.

On behalf of the faculty and staff at West Texas A&M University, thank you for your patience, and we are looking forward to working with you as we all work together and navigate a fall term that will be historically unique.

Best wishes,

Dr. Neil Terry
Executive Vice President and Provost
West Texas A&M University
Email: nterry@wtamu.edu
Phone: 806-651-2043

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why have some of my classes changed instruction mode or course time?
  2. What is the ability of a student to make schedule changes?
  3. How much choice do I have with respect to taking classes face-to-face on campus versus online?
  4. Has the WT fall academic calendar been revised?
  5. Are face coverings required for the fall term?
  6. What if I do not want to comply with institutional face covering requirements?
  7. What is the process for moving into the residence halls for the fall semester?
  8. Will student be able to leave campus?
  9. How will meals be served?
  10. Will West Texas A&M University participate in fall intercollegiate athletics?
  11. If athletic venue capacities will be limited, how will students get tickets to games?
  12. What is the fall timeline for applications and refunds?
  13. What if I am not be able to attend classes because I am in quarantine or I depart campus to help a family member?
  14. How will the University handle residential living requirements for the fall?
  15. What should I do if I am exposed to or test positive for COVID-19?
  16. Will residential living support the ability to quarantine on campus?
  17. Is the University prepared to move all classes online in the fall?
  18. When will campus support facilities reopen?
  19. Will there be fall extracurricular activities on campus?
  20. What are the enhanced cleaning and safety measures implemented?
  21. If I need help with academic matters this fall, who can I contact?

 

1. Why have some of my classes changed instruction mode or course time?

The West Texas A&M University campus is typical of many institutions for higher learning. Our environment is characterized by a high touch, interactive, mobile, and generally dense living and learning environment. This is a setting that compounds multiple risk factors for transmission of COVID-19. In general, a primary mitigation strategy is to ensure protection of our most vulnerable populations as a moral and ethical obligation. Based on current knowledge of how COVID-19 manifests in populations, some vulnerable individuals may need to observe ongoing physical distancing for a more prolonged period of time. For this reason, West Texas A&M University has modified schedules of approximately 50 faculty members. The changes include movement of campus courses to the online environment in order to support those that have explicit personal or family health vulnerability. Faculty schedule changes were finalized July 15th, and we do not anticipate significant additional changes to existing fall courses. We are in the process of adding 20 to 30 additional courses to the fall schedule before the start of the semester in order to meet student scheduling needs combined with social distancing and related concerns.  

 

2. What is the ability of a student to make schedule changes?

Given the fluidity of the pandemic, we have tried our best to modify plans and prepare multiple scheduling options. While it is hard to prepare for every contingency and support campus versus online mode preference for every faculty member and student, we have done our best to allow as many as possible to choose their own path in the fall. Changes to the schedules of faculty members have been applied in recent weeks, and we anticipate many students will make schedule changes in the coming weeks. In fact, students will be able to add and drop courses through the first week of classes (August 24 – 28) without problem in an effort to support individual choice through flexibility.

 

3. How much choice do I have with respect to taking classes face-to-face on campus versus online?

We will do everything we can to accommodate your needs and preferences. If you would like to stay home, we will try and arrange for your courses to be online. If you would like to come to the campus, there are robust offerings for most majors. Our goal as an institution is to give students an opportunity to be on campus, online, or a mix of the two as per individual choice. For 90% of students, we believe a combination of additional advising and schedule changes will lead to a positive resolution to a fall schedule that is generally consistent with preferences. However, it might prove more difficult to resolve scheduling issues for the approximate 10% of students taking core courses critical to a specific major. We cannot compromise the academic efficacy of the educational experience. Therefore, in more complicated scheduling cases you are encouraged to work with your academic dean on possible substitutions and independent study alternatives to facilitate degree completion. Consistent with President Wendler’s guidance, “We are conducting our business at WT according to the dictum of reciprocity, also known as the Golden Rule. We are going to do our best to treat you exactly as we would like to be treated - Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

 

4. Has the WT fall academic calendar been revised?

No. The official fall calendar has classes scheduled through December 3rd and finals between December 5th and 11th. However, faculty members will have the flexibility to complete in-class instruction before the Thanksgiving break, which begins November 25th. There is always some degree of flexibility for faculty members to use their discretion on how to deliver a final exam. There may be some classes that have elements that require students to engage in-person meetings and projects as part of finals, but if faculty members believe their class can be effectively managed by not coming back to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday, they are empowered to proceed. Course syllabi will need to clearly describe final exam schedule expectations where students can plan accordingly. Residential living, library, academic services, and related will continue to be available through the end of the semester in order to support student final exam and of-the-semester project success.

 

5. Are face coverings required for the fall term?

Yes. Beginning July 1, wearing a face covering is required by all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and visitors) on the campus of West Texas A&M University, and campus facilities, unless a health-related exception exists, in the following areas:

  • Indoor public areas on campus, including all non-private office or residential spaces, such as lobbies, restrooms, common spaces in residence halls, conference rooms, break rooms, elevators, and related campus-community areas; and
  • Outdoor spaces where six feet or more of physical distancing is challenging to maintain reliably.

Students will be required to wear a face covering in all classrooms and teaching/research laboratories; however, faculty will not be required to wear face coverings in explicit-learning spaces to facilitate clear instruction.

It is recommended that individuals have multiple face coverings available to use throughout the week and begin each day with a new or cleaned face covering. Plexiglass dividers have been installed where employees and students or visitors interact in high volume, including the business office, mail services, and dining areas.

There are faculty members teaching on campus in the fall who have or who have family members with one or more CDC high-risk factors. Despite their personal risk, these faculty members have decided to proceed with campus instruction this fall to provide, in their opinion, the best pedagogy for specific courses that require some degree of campus engagement. Regardless of your personal opinion on the efficacy of wearing a face covering, WT will require everyone to follow University policy and wear a face covering to align with federal, state, System, and local guidelines, as well as out of respect to the dedication of our faculty and staff leaders that are working to keep the campus open despite personal vulnerability. If best practice in health and safety no longer requires face coverings, we will expeditiously adjust policy.

 

6. What if I do not want to comply with institutional face covering requirements?

Students that do not feel they can comply with face covering requirements are encouraged to complete fall degree requirements online or via an off-campus equivalent. If you have a medical reason not to wear a face covering, please ask your primary care physician to provide you a letter to document medical reason and keep the medical documentation with you in the event you are asked to wear a face covering.

 

7. What is the process for moving into the residence halls for the fall semester?

The Office of Residential Living is striving to provide a move-in experience that is as contactless as possible. Formal move-in will be held over the course of three days—Tuesday, August 18, Wednesday, August 19, and Friday, August 20—and will be by appointment only. Please check the move-in day page regularly for updates.

 

8. Will student be able to leave campus?

Yes. We will encourage students to be judicious in their travel and interactions during pandemic conditions. At the same time, we do not plan to restrict students’ ability to leave campus, especially with respect to visiting family.

 

9. How will meals be served?

We will follow best practice with respect to providing meals.  The traditional self-service buffet meals will be replaced with single-serve for individuals. The dining service staff is trained in food safety regulations, and is following the COVID-19 recommendations and guidelines from the CDC and National Restaurant Association. There are sneeze guards or clear barriers between patrons and dining staff.

 

10. Will West Texas A&M University participate in fall intercollegiate athletics?

Yes. We intend to participate in NCAA competition this fall in each of the sports we sponsor. We have been working diligently towards this end, including the implementation of new safety protocols for participants and fans. Circumstances can change, but we expect to play this fall. Revisions to existing schedules should be anticipated, particularly in football. The situation is evolving, but it is our intent to proceed unless state, The Texas A&M University System, Lone Star Conference, local officials, or coaching staff feel safety concerns are untenable. Athletic competition is part of our education model. Approximately 500 students on our campus develop team and leadership skills by engaging in intercollegiate athletics. The activity is important to the institution, our student-athletes, coaches, and multiple stakeholders. Despite playing a significant role in campus culture, the WT financial model is not dependent on sports (e.g., less than 7% of our total budget).

 

11. If athletic venue capacities will be limited, how will students get tickets to games?

We anticipate we will open the season with our athletic venues capped at 50% capacity. Students will have first option on tickets and will be able to claim them digitally through their mobile device the week of a game.

 

12. What is the fall timeline for applications and refunds?

Students may apply until August 24, 2020, but we encourage application as soon as possible. A full refund for any admitted student after deposits and payments have been made will be available, without penalty, until August 23, 2020. Course schedule changes will be allowed through the first week of classes without any add/drop fees.

 

13. What if I am not be able to attend classes because I am in quarantine or I depart campus to help a family member?

Significant investments are being made in smart classroom equipment to make hybrid, hyflex online, and face-to-face class options more robust, including the addition of Zoom and WebEx-based lecture-capture cameras and recording systems. The cloud-based system will be fully integrated with existing technology to offer the highest level of learning environment consistency for faculty and students. Lecture-capture recordings offer students on-demand access to missed course content.

 

14. How will the University handle residential living requirements for the fall?

WT normally specifies a two-year residency requirement for new freshmen. However, if you and your family have reservations about living on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact the Office of Residential Living regarding exceptions to the policy. The campus residential environment is of great value and can provide support not available in private living situations, but each person must decide what is best for this situation in current times. The challenges of the pandemic have impacted faculty, staff, and students in different ways - the economic, psychological, and social impacts are diverse and real. Some students desire the socializing of residential living but others may not be comfortable engaging campus activities at this time. Doing what we can to help students pursue living arrangements that best fit each individual is now more important than ever.

 

15. What should I do if I am exposed to COVID-19 or test positive?

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, have recently tested positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, send an e-mail to COVID19@wtamu.edu and call Student Medical Services at 806-651-3287. If it is an emergency, please call 911.

 

16. Will residential living support the ability to quarantine on campus?

Yes. Students will have an opportunity to quarantine on campus or at their permanent residence, whichever they prefer. For students who prefer to remain on campus, we will provide space on campus suitable for quarantining. We believe student health, safety, and welfare are to be the forefront of all decision-making. We will do all in our power to serve every student in response to the evolving circumstance. Additionally, if requirements from national, state, System, and/or local officials require modification for living arrangements, the University will work to make adjustments.

 

17. Is the University prepared to move all classes online in the fall?

Yes. The experience from last spring helps inform how to approach future situations. We hope the extreme nature of closing campus will not be necessary. The University has assembled a team that will assess campus health and safety considerations regularly throughout the fall term. If there is a need to suspend campus courses for a period of time in order to mitigate negative trends, we will do so. Suspending courses for a brief period is a common practice each year due to things like winter storms that compromise travel safety. The COVID-19 situation is a different from a storm, but the concept of suspending classes in the short-run followed by an expeditious return to campus operations is not unique.

 

18. When will campus support facilities reopen?

WT’s plans for opening all facilities, including Harrington Academic Hall at the Amarillo Center, are consistent with guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the State of Texas, The Texas A&M University System, Randall and Potter counties, and the cities of Amarillo and Canyon. The Virgil Henson Activities Center, HELC, library, and dining services have already started the reopening process. The plan is to have all campus support facilities open during the fall semester unless or until it is not practical or safe. We encourage you to monitor the websites of individual facilities, as well as the WTAMU COVID-19 webpage for any modifications in facilities or changes that may be necessitated throughout the semester.

 

19. Will there be fall extracurricular activities on campus?

Yes. Extracurricular activities and student support are all central to the on-campus experience. To the very best of our ability, we will make these activities available to students in a safe environment. We understand many students choose to remain on campus for the duration of their studies because of campus engagement and events. Smaller group activities are being planned and organized at this time to serve as an alternative to traditional large-scale engagement activities. For example, Buff Branding will be replaced this year with Buff Nation in order to provide new students revised campus engagement activities that are consistent with health and safety protocols. Clubs, organizations, evening activities, field trips, job fairs, etc. might look a little different this fall, but will be part of the campus experience.

 

20. What are the enhanced cleaning and safety measures implemented?

Fall cleaning and safety measures include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In most rooms on the main campus, we have increased fresh air flow into the HVAC system and decreased the amount of recirculated air.
  • Residence halls common spaces and restrooms will be cleaned twice daily seven days a week.
  • Faculty may lecture in face shields, which are available in the office of each academic dean. Academic administrative offices also have face masks available for students that forget to bring one on any given class day.
  • Classrooms will be disinfected twice a day.
  • High-traffic building lobbies and teaching spaces will receive an additional cleaning and disinfection.
  • Hand sanitizer stands and/or various disinfectant products will be readily available in all campus buildings.
  • Plexiglass dividers have been installed where employees and students or visitors interact in high volume, including the business office, mail services and dining areas.

 

21. If I need help with academic matters this fall, who can I contact?

You can contact your academic department for help or reach out to the appropriate academic dean listed below: 

Dr. Amjad Abdullat, Dean of the Paul & Virginia Engler College of Business
Email: aabdullat@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-2528

Dr. Eddie Henderson, Dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences
Email: ehenderson@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-2603

Dr. Emily Hunt, Dean of the College of Engineering
Email: ehunt@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-5330

Dr. Jessica Mallard, Dean of the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities
Email: jmallard@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-2777

Dr. J. Dirk Nelson, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Email: jdnelson@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-3501

Dr. Kevin Pond, Dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture & Natural Sciences
Email: kpond@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-2563

Dr. Angela Spaulding, Dean of the Graduate School
Email: aspaulding@wtamu.edu; phone: 806-651-2731