Sul Ross State University will open as scheduled for the Fall semester on August 24, 2020. Additionally, the university announced its intent to return to face-to-face academic instruction. As part of its “Safe School, Safe Students” initiative, the university will also implement new policies to maintain social distancing and follow CDC guidelines.
A university task force has been closely studying the specific needs of Sul Ross campuses, faculty, staff, and students, since just after the pandemic began. The task force has also been monitoring directives from both the medical community and federal, state, and local leaders. The task force’s recommendations were recently discussed by the Sul Ross executive team.
Sul Ross will operate its Fall schedule with some modifications: Laboratory and other hands-on instruction will be front-loaded to take place towards the beginning of the Fall semester. All instruction after the Thanksgiving holidays will be delivered online. All instructional classrooms have been modified to allow for social distancing; hand sanitizing stations have been placed at the entrances and exits of instructional facilities, and campus pedestrian walkways will be altered to emphasize and maximize one way traffic patterns where necessary.
“Sul Ross is blessed with plenty of room and much wide-open space to allow for social distancing,” said University president Pete Gallego. “Nothing is more important than keeping our students, faculty and staff safe as we deliver a quality education to those we serve.”
Sul Ross has four campuses serving both Far West Texas and the Middle Rio Grande region. Each campus will implement the same basic procedures. However, each campus will also have the flexibility to incorporate new policies in response to changes in state or local circumstances. This allows for the fact that the COVID situation is fluid and constantly changing.
“Our university is the smallest public university in Texas. We all know each other and we’ll take care of each other. If things change, we will respond quickly. We don’t have a big, messy bureaucracy to slow things down. COVID has made all of us re-think our priorities. Our goal is to make Sul Ross the safest university campus in Texas,” continued President Gallego, “Everyone now knows that bigger isn’t necessarily better and that population density isn’t always a good thing. We want Sul Ross to be as safe as being home.”
The Sul Ross task force and administration will continue to meet regularly, monitor the pandemic and the accompanying public health situation, and make necessary adjustments as needed to keep the university community safe.