UT Permian Basin Navigates the Uncertainties of the 2020 Academic Year
Resiliency & an innovative spirit are part of what makes being a Falcon so special, and during this year at the UT Permian Basin exemplifies that!
We’re only halfway through the year, but 2020 can be summed up simply: the year of uncertainty. It’s hard to believe that just three months ago most of us were busy binge-watching Tiger King and had probably never heard of coronavirus. Now we can’t turn on the TV or surf the internet without seeing the latest spike in COVID-19 numbers, head into the grocery store without wearing a mask or even find toilet paper.
Most of us are searching for one thing: predictability. That’s exactly what universities are trying to provide as we approach the August start date, but it’s no easy task.
Response to COVID-19: Adjustments and Innovations
Like most other schools, The University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) is trying to craft policies that minimize the risk of coming back to campus while providing that traditional collegiate experience. College campuses have many things to consider when it comes to navigating the unprecedented reality that comes with a global pandemic. The list includes everything from class sizes, housing arrangements, food service, athletics, on-campus events, faculty and staff safety, and so much more.
“During this uncertainty, our University has learned so much about our capabilities, and we’ve made adjustments along the way. The tools and innovations we have put in place have really prepared us for what lies ahead,” said UT Permian Basin President, Dr. Sandra Woodley.
The Resiliency and Innovative Spirit of UT Permian Basin’s Falcon Community
When students left campus for spring break in March, we had no idea they wouldn’t return for the spring semester. You can imagine the questions that rolled in. To be honest, we didn’t have all the answers. But we did know one thing: the health of our students, faculty and staff comes first. We put a plan in motion and finished strong, offering all instruction completely on-line. UTPB never missed a beat!
So what does Fall 2020 look like for the University? When students, faculty and staff walk back on campus they’ll be required to wear masks. New signage will encourage social distancing. For those living on campus, housing staff will assign roommates by using the “pod” method, meaning roommates are assigned based on similar academic disciplines or athletic teams. Should a student become sick, isolation rooms will be in place to slow a potential spread.
A majority of our classes will be conducted in a hybrid format. For example, if a student has a Monday/Wednesday class, he or she will attend class in person one day and online the other day. This will cut back on class sizes significantly. For the courses that must be held in person, like clinicals or labs, social distancing will be enforced. Extra cleaning precautions will be visible across the campus.
As for dining services, take-out will be available and self-serve options will be removed. On-campus events will be permitted with attendee limitations and all students will have to register for events so the University can conduct contract tracing if necessary.
“UT Permian Basin is truly made up of an amazing community. Resiliency and an innovative spirit are part of what makes being a Falcon so special,” President Woodley added. “We are ready to welcome students to our campus, but we will also be diligent about adhering to safety protocols.”
Although the semester ahead will look different, our commitment to providing a quality education remains the same. We know that having an on-campus collegiate experience is important even as we carefully navigate the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. Our resiliency will shine through. We look forward to welcoming our students back on campus this fall. After all, there’s not much better than a campus full of students beaming with University pride.
About The University of Texas Permian Basin:
The University of Texas Permian Basin is part of the world-renowned University of Texas System. Our University is changing, growing and most importantly — providing a quality education at an affordable cost. UTPB is the perfect size — small enough to offer personal interaction with professors and leadership opportunities across campus, while big enough to deliver a quality education and professional opportunities after graduation.
About the author: Alexa Dunson is the Communications Manager for The University of Texas Permi-an Basin.