DALLAS - The fall school year will be here before we know it, and North Texas colleges and universities are taking all sorts of extra precautions, while and some are closing campus to students for the time being.
You won’t find students on campus these days at Paul Quinn College. The only signs of life there on Saturday were people making use of the free walkup COVID-19 testing site.
“You’re so used to the college life and being around friends, being around peers and just interacting with your teachers on the daily,” Paul Quinn College student Maria Lopez said.
Officials for the college said they will not have in-person classes this fall semester. Classes are being moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m really not comfortable with the whole online classes,” Lopez said.
Lopez, a legal studies major, believes online learning isn’t the best way to communicate with teachers.
“And sometimes they might not reach out to you as fast as they would like to reach out to you, other than being in class and the teacher will have a response within that second,” Lopez added.
Still, she gets why it’s being done.
“It’s obviously way better being, you know, at home, and do what you can do from home. Just for the safety of you and others,” she said.
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“We are completely understanding of the challenges that this presents to our students,” Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell said. “The state is a hot spot. This county is a hot spot.”
He said college leaders have been speaking with medical professionals all summer, and he believes the risk is not worth it for staff, and especially students.
“They’re imagining coming back to campus the way it was. It’s not going to be like that for a long time. Right? So the idea that you can go to parties with your friends, and that’s going to be safe, and that classes are going to look like they used to, or dorm life will look like it used to, it’s just not going to be that way,” Sorrell added.
Schools across North Texas are adjusting.
UNT officials said large classes will be remote, roughly 50 percent will be in-person. Face coverings are required.
Baylor is also requiring face coverings. The same goes for TCU.
“The advantage of telling people at the beginning of July is you’ve given them a long runway to adjust,” Sorrell added.
Paul Quinn will be reducing tuition costs, providing free Wi-Fi hotspots, and making laptops available for students. For some depending on on-campus housing, the college is making arrangements at an off-campus apartment complex.
Lopez stays with family. The full-time student also works two jobs. Times are stressful, but she believes safety comes first.
“We just want to go back to our normal lives,” she added.
The president of Paul Quinn College is hopeful that online learning will be successful.
He said today’s world is so social media driven, that maybe this semester will be a lesson in new, innovative ways of learning.