Dear Texas Woman’s Community,
As promised in yesterday’s email “whether it is my fault or not, it is my problem,” I want to offer an update on our plans to foster thriving campus communities in the fall.
Teaching and learning
In the spirit of one-size-does-not-fit-all, we are continuing to work on a fully immersive, technology-enhanced academic experience that is flexible and fluid. We have always provided an exceptional Texas Woman’s value—faculty, support services for academics, health, and personal development, alumni recognition, libraries—whether enrolled face-to-face, online, or hybrid, and we will continue to charge tuition and fees at the same rate regardless of modality. Provost Kapinus and her team are deep into scheduling as they refine the application of safety protocols. The use of a protective face covering allows us more options in designing classroom experiences; therefore, we will ask everyone to wear one. In exceptional cases where students cannot wear a mask, they will be asked to physically distance more in a reserved section of the room. With the coverings, we envision some classrooms where every other chair is left empty, for example. The provost plans to:
- Prioritize courses that need in-person instruction to achieve course objectives;
- Work with facilities to creatively use spaces we do not typically use as classrooms to maximize the opportunity for on-campus instruction;
- Potentially increase the number of classes that meet on Saturdays;
- Facilitate large sections online, some with smaller breakout sessions for discussion;
- Ensure each course can easily transition to fully online—and perhaps back—should our contact tracing team require individual isolation for a time; and
- Publish an updated schedule in July to allow time for any needed changes.
In the spirit of fluidity, we will be more prepared than ever to move around any impediment, ensuring students’ progress towards degree completion. We will have the same published start and end date, but we will remain agile should local and state health officials change their guidance on maintaining the health and safety of our community.
We will continue to encourage virtual committee meetings to free up space for classroom scheduling, avoid inter-campus travel, and invite members of every campus to participate on an equal footing.
Lab research is starting to resume. We have also developed a process for approval of human subjects research provided researchers take steps to address the new concerns for health and safety posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Several faculty have begun work specifically related to COVID-19: virologists in biology; social workers interested in the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning at Hispanic Serving Institutions like Texas Woman’s; and nutrition and food sciences faculty looking at food security during a pandemic. I am eager to see what else emerges on the research front.
We had hoped to host a postponed, in-person commencement ceremony in August, but as our understanding about the spread of coronavirus deepens, federal guidelines still warn against large gatherings. We have decided that our virtual commencement in May will have to suffice. We are also following the lead of other public universities in Texas in planning for a virtual commencement this December as well.
Protective face coverings
New publications in peer-reviewed journals support the use of protective face coverings as effective mitigators to the spread of the coronavirus. We are working on messaging campaigns to build a culture that embraces this practice while being mindful of our deaf and hard of hearing community and others who have conditions that make wearing coverings difficult.
Housing and dining
University Housing & Dining will open residence halls and campus apartments in the fall following the guidelines set by federal, state, and local authorities. We are also working with the University’s Risk Management team to implement recommended safety practices. Planning has begun to adjust our traditional staggered move-in process. In addition, we are reviewing all of our residential experiences to ensure safety is at the forefront of all that we do. The Fall 2020 move-in details, found on the housing website, will be available late next week.
Dining operations will open for the fall semester at the same time as on-campus housing. Pioneer Kitchen has spent the last few months redesigning services and practices to keep diners and staff safe while providing delicious, healthy food options for any diet. Dining locations will operate with reduced seating, while still offering dining-in, grab-and-go, and order-ahead options. This fall you will find more meal plan options for commuters, faculty, and staff.
Pioneer Athletics has begun the process of returning to campus and will cautiously monitor conditions throughout a multi-phased approach for both staff and student-athletes. Per NCAA regulations, limited numbers of student-athletes resumed voluntary workouts with staff from both TWU's sports performance and coaching on June 1. Through collaboration with all constituent groups, we have instituted procedures that we will continually review and update as we move through each phase. Physicals, medical history questionnaires, daily self-assessments, and on-campus screenings compliment the required COVID-19 safety education and training programs.
Thank you for reading through all these details so that we continue to move forward together, respecting and protecting each other.
With pioneering spirit,
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President
Chancellor and President
P.S. For the latest information, check out TWU's COVID-19 webpage.