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Graduate students return to in-person classes this fall

Graduate students return to in-person classes this fall

By Evenlyn Gomez 
Bridge contributing writer

Published Friday, Sept. 3, 2021

Most graduate students returned to campus this fall yet it’s not exactly the same, Director of Graduate Admissions and Recruitment Guillermo Gonzalez Jr. said in light of the pandemic.

“Things will certainly be different in the fall semester in terms of interactions between students, faculty and staff,” Gonzalez said. “All information currently available as of Spring 2021 points to still having the same safety protocols in place as we’ve had this past year. For example, all faculty, staff, students and visitors [are encouraged to] social [distance], wear face coverings and frequently wash their hands while on campus.”

Moreover, Texas A&M International University students can only take online courses if completely online; TAMIUFlex courses are no longer available.

“The University offers online sections for certain courses, and some courses are completely online,” Gonzalez said. “However, as of Spring 2021, based on information from the Provost’s Office, the TAMIUFlex option will no longer be available this fall. This means that if a class is offered face-to-face, then students are expected to be in class.”

TAMIU graduate student Josue Gonzalez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, disagrees with returning to campus this fall.

“I would feel better if we can transition slowly back to campus—especially right now that not everyone is fully vaccinated,” Josue Gonzalez said. “I would, however, feel that the decision on returning to campus would be on the individuals.”

Coming into close contact with COVID-19-positive students leads to a quarantine for the safety of others. Cases were on a steady decline after January 2021, according to information from a July 27, 2021, report on the Centers for Disease Control website, cdc.gov. Then the Delta variant struck, leading to a CDC guidance update due to reports of a “rapid and alarming rise in the COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates around the country.”

“According to these guidelines, students who had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, students who have symptoms of COVID-19 or students who have tested positive for COVID-19—or have pending results—are required to notify TAMIU’s COVID-19 Response Team,” Guillermo Gonzalez said. “The response team will contact the student, conduct contact tracing and determine the next step.”

Josue Gonzalez likes that the University did a good job of offering vaccines to students and staff to be safer when returning to campus, but prefers taking online classes for a safer environment.

“I like that the school is offering the vaccines to students and the staff on campus so that we can start to safely return back to face-to-face classes,” Josue Gonzalez said. “Right now, I would still choose to learn online [rather] than to go to a classroom since the pandemic is not fully under control.”

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