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Briefly: Campus case spike consistent with local surge, spring class lineup to look similar to fall

Classes for the spring semester will look very similar to this semester, and students are being placed in isolation and quarantine for COVID-19 at an increasing rate, campus administrators said last week.

COVID-19 cases increase consistent with nationwide upsurge 

Four more students have been placed in isolation and 10 have been placed in quarantine since Monday, Oct. 26. There are currently 15 confirmed cases that have some impact on the campus in isolation and 52 in quarantine due to exposure.

The increase is consistent with the surge of cases locally and across the nation. There are currently over 17,000 cases in Denton Country, and over nine million in the United States.

“We are still doing very well compared to a lot of other universities, but we operate in the community and are affected by it in the same way, so the rates are going up,” executive director of risk management Matt Moustakas said. “We’re going to see it, but hopeful on a much smaller scale.”

Moustakas said that the university community must continue to follow rules and regulations and comply with the preventative measures. Reporting symptoms and following guidelines, Moustakas said, can make a huge difference.

“We hope that the entire university community remains vigilant,” university spokesperson Matt Flores said. “Confirmed cases are spiking in a lot of pockets of the country right now. Some areas within Texas are breaking records, so it’s still around us, and it takes concentrated effort from everybody.”

A third party consortium will be providing more free COVID-19 testing on Nov. 2-6, Nov. 16-20, Nov. 30-Dec. 4, and sometime in January. It will be located at Pioneer Park or at student services if bad weather occurs.

Spring classes to mirror fall semester with hybrid, online classes

Classes for the spring semester of 2021 will look very similar to the current semester Flores said. This fall, 27% of organized classes were either hybrid or completely in person, and 40% of undergraduate and graduate students had classes that included an in-person component. It is expected that the upcoming spring semester will have very similar percentages, Flores said.

Academic Affairs helps determine this by selecting first and second-year courses that contain a large number of students and asking academic units to provide a hybrid or in-person section for the selected courses. Courses that require a close personal interaction among students will be taught online, and faculty who wished to have an in-person component were offered classrooms to be able to teach in person.

Anonymous suggestions cite concerns about students in quarantine, overworked faculty

Chancellor Feyten has received concerns about students in quarantine and about staff being under-appreciated this semester on her office’s Suggestions for Improvement form.

An anonymous person wrote that they are concerned for the students who are put into quarantine. They have been told by multiple students that housing only checks on them once a day, and sometimes even forgetting to do so. They also wrote that one student said they forgot to bring her a meal, and another student said that “they’ll do anything to avoid going into quarantine again.”

Another anonymous faculty member spoke for all faculty and said that they are feeling overworked, stressed, and underappreciated this semester. They suggested better communication between faculty and administration, and they hope “that the overload they are currently in is temporary.”

Other suggestions include changing the way the university handles consumable inventory each year, providing merit pay to employees, and asking administrators to pull data from other available resources instead of asking faculty members.

Featured image: A sign promotes social distancing outside the Fitness and Recreation center at The Texas Woman’s University campus on August 21, 2020. Photo by Sarah Pham.

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