Texas A&M intends to reopen its 11 university campuses for the fall semester and be ready for football, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told the system’s presidents in a phone call Thursday morning. Texas Tech University has also announced that it plans to resume on-campus classes in the fall. Both schools said they are drawing up precautions to keep students safe while bringing them back to campus.
Sharp wants to "make this happen," according to an A&M spokesman.
Many Texas colleges and universities were on spring break when spread of the new coronavirus began disrupting higher education. Although some students returned briefly after break, campuses were ultimately shut down and classes moved online in mid-March.
The shutdowns have been costing schools millions in lost revenue, at least $19.5 million for A&M, a spokesperson told the Tribune two weeks ago. The federal stimulus programs gave A&M just under $40 million to be split between covering losses and financial aid for students.
Texas Tech received about $25.5 million in federal aid. Students at the Lubbock campus will return to classes with a list of precautions including social distancing and testing, President Lawrence Schovanec said in a letter to the campus Wednesday.
"We need to recognize that campus life will be different when we return in the fall," Schovanec said. "We are developing several ways to reduce the density of groups in our student facilities, large lecture-based classrooms, and our popular campus areas. These same plans extend to special events, including athletics.
"Strategies for fall instruction will involve a blend of online and face-to-face classes for some students. We will also take extra precautions to protect the most vulnerable among us."
The University of Texas is still weighing options for the fall semester and expects to announce its plans by the end of June, the university's president said in a statement last week. Baylor University has already announced that it will resume on-campus classes in the fall.
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