TAMIU continues face-to-face labs
By Marlene Gonzalez
Bridge contributing writer
Published Friday, April 30, 2021
[Editor’s Note: This story was written prior to the release of the various novel coronavirus vaccines and is a followup to our story “Petition signers urge University to reconsider face-to-face labs” published Feb. 12, 2021. http://www.thebridgestudentnews.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2603&action=edit]
The University continues face-to-face labs despite students’ request earlier this semester to transition to online-only labs.
“I have done everything in my ability to remain COVID-free since the beginning of the pandemic,” freshman pre-nursing major Edith Gomez said. “Even though the labs are split into smaller groups for in-person attendance, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still at risk within our groups.”
Although Gomez attends a face-to-face lab as required by the University, she continued, prior to release of the vaccine, to hope Texas A&M International University officials would rethink that decision for the safety of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community.
“How can TAMIU argue that it is unsafe for students to attend lectures in-person, but safe for students to be required to attend face-to-face labs?” Gomez asked.
On Mar. 19, the University updated its COVID-19 Response Center webpage to report 139 positive cases and a 1.95% positivity rate since the start of the pandemic.
Some students shared they believe the University is doing all it can to keep everyone safe, yet some voiced their beliefs that the University is more concerned about financial numbers than about the safety and well-being of students.
Students shared jokes among themselves on social media about the University and the decisions made since the start of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.
“Students have fun joking and sharing memes on Facebook about having to go to campus when required for their courses,” sophomore biology major Josue Leal said. “TAMIU has made its decision about in-person labs and we have tried but we can’t change their decision so we must do what we can to stay safe and take care of ourselves.”
On the COVID-19 Response Center webpage, the University posted an announcement named “TAMIU Back Together,” explaining the goal for the Spring 2021 semester was to create a safe environment for all community members present on the campus.
TAMIU adjunct faculty member Ann-Geneve Asis teaches Anatomy & Physiology II and agreed face-to-face labs can be safe for students if they keep their distance and utilize the sanitation options–such as hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes–supplied in each classroom by the University.
According to the University’s COVID-19 Response Center webpage, it is every individual’s personal responsibility to do their part in following the guidelines and respecting any restrictions set in place to assist in protecting themselves and those around them any time they find themselves on campus during the pandemic.
“I appreciate the University taking steps like providing wipes and sanitizer to make things easier and ‘better’ for us, but just because these things are provided doesn’t mean we’re suddenly not at risk of getting the virus anymore, ” sophomore Yitzel Hattem said. “In lab, when we’re working with microscopes, we are not allowed to touch the microscope or slide and we cannot look through the lens.”
Hattem said lab students must use their phone cameras in order to avoid contact with the microscope and take pictures of the slides through the lenses to complete the information for their reports. She questioned why students cannot touch the microscopes, but they can touch their phones, which they are constantly touching throughout the day.
“How are germs and bacteria not passed from our phones to the microscope and over to the next phone or person?” she asked.
Many people are uneasy with the way things have been handled regarding the novel coronavirus on and off campus; however, the virus continues to be present in our community.