TCU announced plans to return to in-person learning and an on-campus experience this fall.
Chancellor Victor Boschini made the announcement last week, as COVID-19 cases remain low and vaccinations continue to rise among the campus community.
“This decision was made in concert with our Campus Readiness Task Force and TCU’s Public Health Group, the same teams who have led our successful planning and safety precautions for the past year,” Boschini wrote in an email to the campus community. “We will, of course, continue to closely monitor conditions across the country, as well as the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Almost all classes will return to an in-person format, except for a few who do not fit the class schedule or inside of available spaces.
Others will be held in “nontraditional classroom areas” to accomodate social distancing protocols, according to an email sent by Provost Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg.
“These areas have been transitioned to fully support a classroom learning environment,” Dahlberg wrote. “We will reevaluate all classroom spaces and physical distancing protocols as the semester nears.”
Just days after the universities announcement, the CDC lowered its distancing requirement in schools from six to three feet.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Kathryn Cavins-Tull told TCU360 in an email that this could make classrooms feel even more normal next fall.
“If the decision is made to lower social distance requirements from six feet to three feet, campus may look a lot like what you have been used to pre-COVID,” she said.
Campus cases remain low as vaccinations rise
The growing number of vaccinated community members and continuance of low case numbers played a role in TCU’s decision to return to campus in the fall.
Over 2,000 TCU students, faculty and staff have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Cavins-Tull.
Active cases among on-campus students reached zero for the first time since August during the first week of March. There are now currently 15 active cases among students and staff, according to the university’s dashboard.
“Because of continued vigilance with our health and safety measures, COVID case count remains low on campus and within our community,” Boschini said in his email.”The pandemic has taught us to stay flexible, remain humble and to be prepared for changes in guidance.”
Cavins-Tull said that she hopes that more vaccines will become available to TCU students in the near future. TCU community members can register for the vaccine online with the TCU COVID-19 vaccine form.
Reevaluation, flexibility stressed as TCU eyes return to campus
Both Cavins-Tull and Boschini expressed optimism that the university will be able to stick to its plans for the fall, but emphasized the need for flexibility.
“August is still five months away, which is a lifetime in regards to COVID-19,” Cavins-Tull wrote. “Protocols for COVID are based on infection rate, hospital rates, federal, state and local guidance and, most importantly, vaccination rates.”
Boschini said that “healthy decisions” need to be made now to prepare for the fall, and mentioned the participation of TCU students and staff in the vaccination site located on campus.
The chancellor added that the university will continue to monitor pandemic conditions across the country and the latest CDC guidances.
More details will be provided as the semester approaches, but Cavins-Tull saw the announcement as a turning point.
“I hope the community was excited and hopeful for our future,” she wrote. “It finally feels like we are turning the corner and can see some return to the activities we loved prior to COVID.”