FALL TERM: BACK ON CAMPUS
Illustration by Kris Porter
By Joh Covington, Skyline Editor
ALPINE, Texas_ Sul Ross Campuses have completed three weeks of classes and move forward to the remaining 13. Returning to campus for in-person classes has been a refreshing change, although leaving the comfort of home for face-to-face classes has felt like another readjustment, for some laden with trepidation.
By now each student has become acquainted with their assigned seat for each class, which helps with contact tracing in the event of a Covid breakout, and campus is a mix of faces with and without masks. While teachers do not require masks, many strongly recommend them. While the first two weeks of school saw almost no Covid cases, there has been a surge since the Labor Day break, with 13 new infections as of Sept. 16, almost half on the basketball team.
Sul Ross health services has already given 1,446 Covid tests so far this semester, which is about a quarter of the total tests given last fall.
“We all want the semester to continue in person. The most efficient way forward is to test, to vaccinate, to mask, and to social distance,” said Dr. Laura Payne, Sul Ross professor and dean.
It seems to be a brighter environment on the Alpine campus, perhaps because so many appreciate being around other people, even if it’s just by passing them on the sidewalk or sitting with a plastic bag covered chair between them.
In the launch of his monthly newsletter, El Lobo, President Pete P. Gallego said, “This was the best start to a fall semester in a long time. Students tell me it was the best ever.” Lobo Days in Alpine was a particularly fun success.
The summer brought many changes. Sul Ross’ construction projects made headway and are still in progress. The university’s new website was launched. And today many of the classes are comprised of a mix of virtual and in-person students, which can come with its own set of challenges , namely, technological. However, OIT recently remodeled 30 classrooms to serve distant learning students, to ease the educational transition.
“Sul Ross is forging ahead and embracing its potential. WE WILL be one of the best small colleges and universities in the nation in the next 10 years,” Gallego said.