WT spring semester to begin Jan. 11, campus activities to resume

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CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – As West Texas A&M University prepares to open the spring semester on Jan. 11, it has reminded that registration is still open and the University intends to serve students on an individual basis.

“Following CDC guidelines and the best advice from experts as vaccines become more widely available, we have renewed optimism about our spring semester and how we will continue to resume normal campus life,” said University President Dr. Walter Wendler. “As we do, we will continue to respond in every way possible to the specific needs and hardships of our students and their families.”

Spring athletics will resume in front of reduced crowds, said the University, with plans to expand crowds for athletic events as the semester progresses.

“The university will run a full athletics schedule this spring, with 11 teams competing for Lone Star Conference and NCAA championships,” said Michael McBroom, director of athletics. “More than 80 basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball and track contests will be hosted on the WT campus from February through May.”

“Although capacity will be limited in most venues, full- and part-time enrolled students will have first priority to receive available tickets for each game,” McBroom said.

The University said that other activities across campus will also begin to return. Plans for in-person commencement ceremonies are in progress for the spring, that the University said will include all students who graduated in 2020. More details will be forthcoming.

“Our plan is to introduce changes for the spring slowly based on results of the vaccine rollout and recommendations of health professionals,” Wendler said. “We continue to ask the Buff community to follow safety guidelines to continue to mitigate the spread of the virus: wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, staying home when sick, avoiding close contact with those who are sick, and other commonsense guidelines.”

Jeffrey Baylor, executive director of admissions, said it’s not too late to enroll.

“We know that families and prospective students still are being cautious about making plans, but the time has never been better to become a Buff,” Baylor said. “We are trying to meet students’ needs wherever they are.”

As previously announced, application fees are waived through July 31, including for students still wishing to sign up for Spring 2021 classes.

The University said that students who enroll now for classes in the spring also can apply for CARES Act grants. 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.

“These funds are designed to address immediate needs of our students — food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, childcare and more,” said Randy Rikel, vice president for business and finance. “The grants are easy to apply for and can help address many immediate, coronavirus-related needs of our students.”

Undergraduates also may be eligible, said the University, for the The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents’ Scholarship Fund, a $100 million scholarship program that was approved June 15.

The University said that students must be Texas residents and enrolled full time as undergraduates, either as a freshman or a transfer student. They also should come from low-income backgrounds, be first-generation college students or come from underrepresented geographic areas. A preference will be given to underrepresented populations to ensure the diverse student body more closely reflects the state’s demographics.

Beyond the spring, undergraduate students planning to begin in Fall 2021 can apply for the WT Merit Scholarship Program, the University said. The newly redesigned program is intended to increase the number of qualifying students and raise the amount given to up to $8,000 per qualified student per year. Qualified students are guaranteed that, as long as they meet credit-hour and GPA requirements, they will receive the merit scholarship for four years or until they complete a bachelor’s degree, whichever comes firs.

Other scholarship opportunities are available, as well. Contact Financial Aid at 806-651-2055 or wtamu.edu/financialaid for information.

“Campus life in the spring will follow COVID-19 safety precautions, 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.” stated the University.

SSC, the University’s custodial partner, will reportedly continue to clean working and common spaces during each working day.

The University said further that students, faculty, staff and visitors all are required to wear face coverings unless in a private office or residence hall room. Hand sanitizing stations are located around campus, and signs are posted around the University to remind staff and visitors to observe safety protocols.

In addition, COVID-19 testing is available weekly, according to the University. Nearly 5,000 tests have been performed on campus since July. Quarantine housing is available on campus for students who test positive and are unable to return home.

WT began its Fall 2020 semester with 10,169 students, the largest enrollment in the school’s history and a nearly 1 percent increase over 2019.

WT said 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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