COLLEGE STATION, TX — Texas A&M is implementing several changes in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus, including limiting classroom capacity and instituting a cleaning period.
The Texas A&M Provost and Executive Vice President Carol A. Fierke posted the regulations to Texas A&M Today.
Classes will begin three days earlier than initially planned. They will now commence on Wednesday, August 19. Reading days and online/ remote final exams will begin after Thanksgiving break.
Initially, it was discussed that the university would extend classes to Saturday. However, it has decided to continue to hold classes five days a week. However, more classes will be taught later into each day.
Fierke announced a 30-minute "passing period" between classes to allow students and instructors to completely clear the rooms before the next group enters. Around noon each day, there will be one 45-minute passing period to allow cleaning of classrooms.
Fierke says the days instructors were scheduled to teach are not likely to change, however it is likely the class time will. The university is mapping existing courses to the new time pattern.
Students will not be required to re-register for their courses, but registration will open on Monday, July 27, should they wish to make changes.
The university will also limit rooms to approximately 33% to 40% of normal capacity to allow for physical distancing.
Fierke says the university has a disproportionate number of smaller classrooms, so additional spaces typically used for meetings and events have been secured and will be scheduled for instructional use.
The university believes almost half of classes will be available in a face-to-face format this fall. All face-to-face classes will also be offered remotely. The other half will be offered only remotely or online.
To facilitate the process, Texas A&M began installing cameras, microphones and other equipment in classrooms after the spring semester.
Students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear face masks or face coverings while on campus.
Fierke says additional safety measures are in progress and many more are under consideration, including testing, contact tracing, enhanced air circulation and cleaning, and the addition of Plexiglass barriers, among others.
Additional details will be released through the summer as they are finalized.