In light of the recent increase in cases due to increased contagiousness omicron A COVID-19 variant, universities in Texas are at a stalemate with the spring semester quickly approaching.
Harvard was one of the first universities to announce go virtual for part of their spring term, while colleges in Texas such as the University of Texas attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus with delays and requests for testing.
UH is still monitoring the situation in the Houston area, according to UH spokesperson Shawn Lindsey.
“Keeping our campus safe is a shared responsibility,” said Lindsey. “Vaccination remains the main prevention strategy to protect yourself and those around you, including a vaccination booster. Face coverings have also been helpful in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and the University strongly encourages face coverings. “
The university still plans to move forward with offerings of online, face-to-face and hybrid course options for students, as it did in the fall semester, despite the rapid spread of omicron in the Houston area.
On average about 23 cases per day Over the past week, some students remain concerned about what the spring semester might bring.
“The University of Houston is handling this a bit,” said Ernesto Colchado, director of industrial engineering. “Cases are clearly skyrocketing, while there is a lack of sites (around Houston) to get tested for the virus.”
Other students are also concerned about the safety of others, despite the maximum protection against omicron with the vaccine.
“I think I would feel as safe as possible knowing that I have taken the necessary precautions to keep myself safe,” said Kavya Nadella, head of communication science and disorders. “However, I can’t say that this holds true for everyone I will be with in my classes or around campus. Therefore, no, I cannot say that I feel 100% safe to return to classes in person. “
While holding the virtual spring semester may reduce the transmission of COVID-19, some students are concerned that the quality of their classes may not be as good as they would be in person.
“I’m in the last two most crucial classes of my major, and I think having an online mode for these classes will have a huge impact on the level of understanding and application I get from the class. “Nadella said. “But at the end of the day, I know I can do my best knowing that I’m safe at home rather than having the anxiety of being on campus with others in class.”
Others are more confident in how the University and students will adapt to the potential change in terms.
“I’m not worried about a change,” Colchado said. “I think we have all adapted very well to the situation and are able to follow online learning as we have in the past. Whether it’s a few weeks online or a semester, academic resources have improved significantly and are very accessible to everyone.
Lindsey said the university is encouraging students to wear face coverings to further reduce the spread of the virus and weekly testing for unvaccinated people.
UH offers free COVID-19 PCR tests at the healing kiosk across from Student Center South in appointment, available to members of the UH community with their Cougar card.
“UH’s protocols and guidelines are continually reviewed and updated to reflect the latest changes and recommendations from the CDC,” Lindsey said.