President Wendler Announces Plans to Reopen for Fall 2020

May 1, 2020

Dear West Texas A&M University Community,

When we began the fall semester, none of us imagined that the academic year would end with us working and learning remotely to ensure the health and safety of the WT community because of a global pandemic.
COVID-19 has altered much of our daily lives, but it has not diminished our commitment to academic excellence or the stamina, strength, and courage of our Buffalo spirit. We have continued to serve our students, the community, and our neighbors through our efforts to continue our educational mission, make available the resources of the University to the wider community, and share the collective wisdom and experience of The Texas A&M University System to combat the spread and effect of the virus.
You may have seen the announcement that WT is the safest campus in Texas and among the top 10 safest campuses in America. We were among the first to make decisions to facilitate social distancing to keep our campus community safe. Rest assured that we will continue to keep your safety and that of our community at the forefront of all our decisions.
As of today, I want to share with you that we intend to safely resume in-person teaching, learning, residential life, and athletic competition for the fall 2020 semester using a phased return approach, all under the leadership of the Board of Regents and Chancellor John Sharp. This decision is predicated on health officials advising us that it is possible to implement a return-to-campus process in a manner that protects the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.
 It is time for the Buffaloes to come home to the Panhandle to rejoin the herd. Please realize while we will be back on campus it will not be like this past fall. Social distancing and safety protocols will be in place as we return to our classrooms, labs, and residence halls. Our plans will also include recommendations regarding the use of protective masks, testing and contact-tracing, and other tools. We are developing ways to reduce the density of groups in our student facilities, large lecture-based classrooms, and our popular campus areas. These same plans extend to special events, including athletics.
We will need to be flexible in considering the special circumstances of various units on campus, recognizing that strategies for fall instruction will involve a blend of online and face-to-face classes for some students. We will take every precaution to ensure the safety of all those associated with WT. There will be inconveniences, but they will be necessary for us to get back to our campus, colleagues, and friends in a safe and responsible way.
The Texas A&M System is providing guidelines to help us develop plans for a phased return to campus in the coming weeks for some staff and faculty. As previously announced all campus summer camps and events have been canceled. Summer Session I will be fully online, but if conditions permit, we may provide some face-to-face instruction in Summer II. 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. As we continue to work through this planning, we will provide additional communications with more details in a timely manner. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 webpage.
As I have said many times, West Texas A&M University is truly the heart and soul of the Texas Panhandle. Together, we will continue to work diligently to ensure our safe return to campus. Thank you, for your perseverance, prayers, and practice in developing new ways to teach, learn, and live.

On, On Buffaloes!

Walter V. Wendler