CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As the fall semester comes to an end, West Texas A&M University says it is planning for spring, “armed both with more knowledge and experience of how to keep the campus community safe and with additional financial aid for students affected by the coronavirus.”
“When we announced in May that we would return to campus with fall classes following the pandemic shutdown, we knew that we would have a learning curve throughout the semester as we continued to successfully fulfill our academic mission,” said WT President Dr. Walter Wendler
“WT has been an online pioneer since 1997,” said Dr. Neil Terry, executive vice president and provost, “and throughout the spring, summer and fall, we have made significant improvements in our ability to provide hybrid and hyflex learning environments for all of our students. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our faculty, staff and students, we have been able to navigate the challenges of the fall semester successfully.”
“We take very seriously our charge to provide a safe environment for our students and the entire campus community, and we will continue to do so as classes resume in January,” Terry said.
The Fall 2020 semester, which began Aug. 24, will conclude with a Dec. 12 virtual commencement ceremony. The University says that classes will resume Jan. 11 for the Spring 2021 semester.
The University says registration is underway now, and application fees have been waived through Dec. 31.
The University continues to say that students who enroll now for classes in the spring can also begin applying for CARES Act grants Dec. 18. In May, $2.8 million was made available to WT for direct relief grants for eligible students, and as the spring semester approaches, more than $1 million is still available.
“It’s easy to apply for these funds, which are designed to address the immediate, coronavirus-related needs of our students,” said Randy Rikel, vice president for business and finance. “These grants can help students with food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, childcare and more.”
Eligible students, says WT, can receive their grant funds via direct deposit or checks, though disbursement of paper checks may take up to a month.
Eligibility, the University describes, is determined by standards set by the Department of Education and is based on Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filed in either the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school years. Further details on criteria for eligibility and distribution can be found at wtamu.edu/cares.
When classes resume in January, the University says that students will have the options to take courses online, face-to-face or a hybrid of both.
“As in the fall, campus life in the spring will follow COVID-19 safety precautions.” Says the University’s release. “WT’s plans will continue to be consistent with guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control, the State of Texas, The Texas A&M University System, Randall and Potter counties, the cities of Amarillo and Canyon, and the Bi-County Health Department.”
Students, faculty, staff and visitors all are said to be required to wear face coverings unless in a private office or residence hall room. Hand sanitizing stations are reported by the University as located around campus, and signs are posted around the University to remind staff and visitors to observe safety protocols.
In addition, the University says COVID-19 testing is available weekly. Quarantine housing is available on campus for students who test positive and are unable to return home.
The University continues, “As with football in the fall, athletic competitions will resume with strict COVID-19 precautions for players, coaches and fans, WT’s 2020-21 basketball season will begin Dec. 11 with low-capacity crowds and general-admission seating to make social distancing easier. If conditions allow, single-ticket sales will resume and larger crowds will be allowed inside the First United Bank Center.”
WT also provides counseling services for students who are struggling with the realities of COVID-19 and continuing their education, said Mike Knox, vice president for student enrollment, engagement and success.
“We put our students’ needs first, and offering these counseling sessions — both in person and virtually — is just one way that we are helping our students navigate these difficult times,” Knox said.
WT says it is committed to serving both the campus and the community, as detailed in the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.
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