Texas State University officials discussed their plans for the fall 2021 semester with class capacity expanding to 100% capacity. Above, a student walks past a marquee sign saying "Know Respect, Show Respect, Wear a mask" during the fall 2020 semester. Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
PLANNING FOR THE FALL
Texas State University is planning to return to a sense of normalcy in the fall, aiming to operate classes at 100% capacity.
Gene Bourgeois, university Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said Texas State’s decision to expand classes to 100% capacity is based upon discussions with public health officials, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and COVID-19 vaccination uptake.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Bourgeois said. “We’ve done a lot of planning. We’ve been very successful … in terms of our pandemic responses to date, and because of all of that and because of projections going through the summer, we feel confident about what we’re planning for the fall.”
Texas State will have between 85-90% of its fall class sections offered in-person with approximately 10- 15% of classes offered only online. The university’s summer schedule, however, will continue to look like it has during the fall and spring semesters amid the pandemic — 50% capacity in classrooms and 75% of classes offered online.
“We have a phased approach still that we’re operating under,” Bourgeois said. “Summer will look a lot like it does today. But, in the fall we are back to normal and we are very much looking forward to that.”
Dr. Emilio Carranco, university Chief Medical Officer, said the university believes it will be able to have safe in-person classes because Texas State’s prevention measures have worked — wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing — and the improving COVID-19 situation in Texas. He also highlighted increased vaccine availability in Texas, saying “we believe that before the start of the fall semester anyone who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated.” The university, however, will not require COVID-19 vaccination for the fall semester but will be strongly encouraging vaccines to everyone who can be vaccinated.
“There’s no question that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and to bring this pandemic to an end,” Carranco said. “Those who are unvaccinated will need to continue prevention measures. They're going to need to continue wearing face masks. They’re going to need to continue physical distancing whenever possible. They’re going to continue avoiding crowds. And so, I think that population will need to continue some preventive measures.”
Carranco said the university found no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in the classroom through Texas State’s contact tracing of hundreds of cases. He added that the university will continue contact tracing for COVID-19 in the fall as well as provide isolation and quarantine spaces on its campus.
Cynthia Hernandez, Vice President for Student Affairs, said through conversations with student government and student leaders that they’re excited to move from virtual learning back to face-to-face instruction.
“They have really been yearning for the companionship and the interactions that only come with being able to share physical spaces with each other,” Hernandez said, adding that Texas State’s conference rooms, meeting rooms, recreation center facilities will also operate at 100% capacity. “So, we’re excited to be able to do that.”
Texas State’s fall semester begins on Aug. 23.