Now is not the time for Tyler Junior College to stand out among the rest of our community.
Amid a throng of Coronavirus-related closures and changes, TJC has yet to make a definitive decision regarding the school’s operations for the rest of the spring semester. As of March 19, in-person classes are set to resume on April 6. However, institutions across the nation are closing their doors for the rest of the semester as a precaution against COVID-19. Why won’t TJC follow suit?
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order mandating the temporary closure of schools and prohibition of social gatherings involving ten or more people until April 3, according to the Texas Tribune. Following these guidelines, TJC announced a transition to online classes for the week of March 30 and a tentative return to campus on April 6.
Taking it one step further, local institutions such as the University of Texas at Tyler and Kilgore College have transitioned to online-only classes for the remainder of the spring semester. Given that the U.S. now leads the world in COVID-19 cases (more than 68,000 as of March 26, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), refraining from in-person classes seems to be the safest and most sensible decision for our school.
The tentative transition to online classes has been a difficult one for students and faculty alike. Professors must reevaluate their lesson plans, students must adjust to online work and a lack of extracurricular activities. Additionally, many graduating students are uncertain about their last few months at TJC. Nevertheless, the temporary setbacks these issues present pale in comparison to the possibly devastating consequences of reopening school as COVID-19 continues to worsen. The health and safety of the TJC community is, and should be, of the utmost importance to our administration. That being considered, administrators should take these circumstances to heart when deciding TJC’s course of action for the rest of the semester.
Allowing students to remain at home for the spring semester provides an opportunity for students to adjust to the changes of online coursework in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Additionally, student workers who rely on individual incomes to support themselves or their families will be able to apply for employment outside of TJC. TJC’s administration will also be able to divert focus from the spring semester to the summer and fall terms, allowing for admissions and extracurriculars to carry on as planned. The sooner a decision is reached, the sooner all students and staff can fully adjust and move forward with their plans and necessities.
TJC’s administration has been diligent in its communications with our community and should be commended for its efficient decision-making process. However, the long-term direction of TJC’s spring operations must be decided upon quickly – and in a manner that best protects all students, staff and the rest of the Tyler community.