Students and faculty express concern about return to face-to-face teaching | Texas A&M University-San Antonio

With the start of a new year, the Texas A&M University-San Antonio social media team released a series of posts welcoming the return of in-person teaching this spring.

“Comment below on what you are most looking forward to in this new semester,” a caption read with a photo of a student working at the campus library.

These messages were initially greeted with some enthusiasm, but with the approach of the spring semester and the increase in COVID-19 cases locally, more and more students began to express their dissatisfaction with the this positive message.

Cyrena De Leon, a psychology student, was one of the first students to express her discomfort.

“(I am) concerned about the lack of communication regarding the upsurge in COVID cases,” she commented on Instagram on January 4.

“Why are we putting our campus in danger? We need options.

Due to factors such as vacation travel and the dominant, highly transmissible Omicron variant, San Antonio has seen a significant peak in cases since the beginning of the year.

All other major local colleges have has announced plans to start the spring semester online.

In a final update ahead of the semester, A&M-San Antonio reiterated its initial plans to “adhere to state and system guidelines“promising to provide students with rapid tests and N95 masks to slow the spread of the virus on campus.

This update has only intensified the online outrage from students and faculty alike.

Within hours, the ad received nearly 200 comments on social media platforms.

Eddie De Leon, a computer junior who has expressed his concern online, says he feels “compelled to return” to his classes in person.

“Everyone has someone they care for who may not have access to a vaccine or who is immunocompromised,” De Leon said in an interview on Jan. 8.

“For us to go back and pretend nothing is happening … it doesn’t make me feel safe – it doesn’t make people I know feel safe or their families feel safe.” . “

English senior Madison Cardenas has contacted The Mesquite to express her concerns about the coming semester.

Cardenas said the university’s recent problems with housing, budgeting and COVID-19 were the administration’s fault.

“I think if (the university) has so much going wrong in such a quick succession, something is wrong,” Cardenas said. “I don’t blame the staff at all… It has to be at the administration level.

Cardenas said she wanted students to remember their concerns were important and should be voiced.

“We pay the tuition and we go there and we support this campus and everyone with it,” Cardenas said. “I think we deserve to have these opinions heard. “

Some faculty members have also expressed apprehension about returning to campus.

Representing more than 30 instructors on campus, the A&M-San Antonio chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP) posted a series of tweets criticizing the university’s decision in the first week of January.

According to Scott Gage, associate professor of English and director of the AAUP chapter of A & M-San Antonio, the university has shown a lack of “care and concern” for faculty, staff and students over other local colleges.

“There appears to be a narrative that the pandemic is over,” Gage said in an interview on Jan. 7.

Gage says the university’s recent post around COVID-19 is “based on a story of hope that just doesn’t match current reality.”

Administrators and spokespersons were largely silent when contacted by The Mesquite.

The office of University President Cynthia Teniente-Matson refused to discuss COVID-19 protocols in Mesquite on January 7, referring a reporter to the Office of Marketing and Communications, who did not answer phone calls.

Mark Weichold, the university’s new acting rector, told a reporter that the university would issue an announcement on Jan. 7 that would offer “some indication of our expectations for the spring.”

The university does not expect “any change of schedule or modality for the courses” according to their last update posted on social media on January 7.

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