TAMU System Resumes In-Person Courses Despite Omicron Surge

Mask+and+unmasked+students+walk+through+the+Center+for+Instruction+on+January+26%2C+2022.

Kenya Zarate

Mask and unmasked students walk through the Center for Instruction on January 26, 2022.

According to the Nueces County Dashboard, Nueces County is currently classified as an extremely high risk location for COVID-19 transmission. Although Nueces County is at a level four for COVID-19 community transmission, Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi students returned to campus as usual on Jan. 18. Across the state of Texas, many college campuses decided to hold classes virtually for the first two to three weeks of the Spring 2022 semester to slow the spread of the virus. Texas State University, the University of Houston, and the University of Texas system began the semester with a virtual start. Meanwhile, the Texas A&M University system continued with plans for face-to-face courses for the Spring 2022 semester.

In an effort to protect the Islander community, the TAMU-CC chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a statement encouraging institutional leadership to move classes to a virtual environment during this extreme health crisis. “The science is clear. This virus is highly transmissible. The omicron variant is even more transmissible than the earlier ones. The science, and the experts our own university pays to teach science, say that large groups of people will transmit the virus. Large groups of unmasked people indoors will transmit the virus even more. On top of that, our campus is part of the broader community we serve. If there is a spike in cases on campus, transmission in the community will also increase, and our already overburdened hospital system will suffer even more,” stated Dr. Johnson, Vice President of the AAUP TAMU-CC chapter.

Do you think courses for the spring 2022 semester should have gone virtual due to the Omicron surge?

Loading...

Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Despite the AAUP’s advocacy for a virtual class environment to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, TAMU-CC has followed through with the decision to deliver classes in the format designated in S.A.I.L. “At this time we continue to offer a variety of learning modalities in support of different learning styles and student preferences. Our goal, before, during, and after this pandemic, is to provide as many options as we can to support our students’ success,” TAMU-CC President Kelly Miller stated. 

Addressing the safety concerns of COVID-19 transmission on campus, Dr. Miller explained “members of the President’s Cabinet and University Health Center monitor the COVID situation daily, looking at key metrics, including our case count, availability of quarantine rooms on campus, and availability of local hospital beds. We also utilize up-to-date guidance from the CDC, the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District, and the Texas A&M University System. Additionally, to support health and safety for Islanders, we continue to offer free on-campus testing and vaccinations for all students, faculty, and staff. We also strongly encourage wearing face coverings in public places, symptom monitoring, testing, and vaccinations. Faculty may make temporary changes to teaching formats if warranted.”

Although there may be mixed opinions regarding the university’s decision, most professors seem to be on board with returning to campus. “I’m generally supportive of the university’s decision to maintain face-to-face instruction this semester, with some caveats. I think the university does a pretty good job of taking precautions but I wish some things were better. I wish we could enforce a mask mandate inside buildings – too many people disregard this simple precaution, even though it reduces transmission. I also wish we could have staggered class scheduling. Our community healthcare system is severely strained and burning out. They need our help,” Professor Patrick Larkin stated. Additionally, Professor Lon Seiger stated “as long as the caseload of infection is low on campus, I am in favor of keeping classes face-to-face. If infection rates start creeping up, we should go online until the rates decrease.” 

For more information, visit the TAMU-CC COVID-19 Campus Guide: 

https://www.tamucc.edu/campus-guide/