Tyler Junior College officials are working toward plans to hold in-person classes as normal for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 24.
According to TJC Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations Rebecca Sanders, TJC will offer both in-person and online classes for the fall semester. This modality has been offered in previous semesters; however, because of COVID-19 concerns Sanders explained extra sanitary precautions will be taken for in-person classes.
“Students and employees can expect to see extra cleaning crews carrying out frequent sanitization of classrooms and other common areas as well as more hand sanitizing stations throughout campus,” Sanders said.
Face masks will be optional but may be required in some classrooms. Social distancing of at least six feet will still be practiced, and classroom layouts will be adjusted accordingly. Sanders said these plans for the fall semester are subject to change as government officials continue to update guidelines regarding COVID-19.
In a conference call with state lawmakers on June 18, Gov. Greg Abbott stated Texas public schools will return to normal instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott said there will be options for remote education for those who are uncomfortable returning to in-person classes. This announcement comes amid concerns about record-breaking spikes in Coronavirus cases in Texas and several other U.S. states in recent weeks.
The Texas Department of State Health Services maintains an online dashboard for COVID-19 cases and updates, which can be found at https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83. According to this data, there were 4,430 daily new cases on June 20, the most in one day since the pandemic began. As of June 22, daily new cases topped at 3,280. The same dashboard currently reports 123 active Coronavirus cases in Smith County, compared to 5,327 in Dallas County and 12,404 in Harris County. Despite more than 125,000 total cases in Texas, total recoveries are estimated at 72,898.
TJC officials are continuing to monitor local, state and federal Coronavirus guidelines and updates. More information regarding fall procedures is expected before the academic year begins.
“Students enrolled for fall will receive a detailed message with instructions and guidelines plus more information on what to expect when they return to campus this fall,” Sanders said. “The safety of our students and employees is paramount and we will constantly monitor developments.”
Some TJC students have already returned to campus as the ongoing summer term is being conducted through a mix of in-person and online courses. Some student organizations also have continued with their scheduled summer activities. Additionally, new student orientations for incoming freshmen have been held in-person, with online options made available to students who choose not to attend.
Other local colleges are also planning to begin their fall semesters on time. According to the Jacksonville Progress, Stephen F. Austin State University plans to begin its fall semester on Aug. 24. SFA officials have developed a “Lumberjack Flex” model, which allows for flexibility in students’ choices to attend classes in-person, online or a combination of both. According to Kilgore College’s official website, the college is continuing with summer and fall classes as normal, with both in-person and online options available to students.