By SUMMER TESSNEER and CAYLEE HANNA
Staff Reporter and Editor-in-Chief
At this point in the pandemic, a new normal has established itself. Most people don’t have to remind themselves to grab a mask before driving to class, however, many wonders if things will ever go back to the way they were.
According to Frank Sobey, the associate vice president of academic affairs, Amarillo College is preparing for a change–a change back to normal.
“We plan to be back on campus this fall with full room capacity, no masks required and no social distancing. However, this plan could change based on our hospitalization rate and the number of active cases in our area,” he said.
During the AC Town Hall Update, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart said that returning to normal means not discussing COVID-19 and making plans around the pandemic.
“We’re going to start moving to a post-COVID college,” Lowery-Hart said. “We’re going to start normalizing our relationship with each other. I think it’s time for us to stop reflecting the political divides around our health and come back together and loving and supporting each other. And to me, that just means that we don’t need to talk about COVID anymore unless our hospitalization rates increase.”
At Amarillo’s current condition, reopening campus has become a feasible option.
“I hope that we will be able to return in full this fall and remain so through the rest of the academic year. If that occurs, then it will mean that our community is doing well,” Sobey said.
Lowery-Hart also said that he is excited to return to normalcy during the update.
“We’re starting to dip our toe in re-emerging in a full sense,” he said. “We’re having some pending events, an outdoor face-to-face graduation and we’re looking to have a more robust traditional fall experience. We’ll be bringing people on campus this summer for orientations and various activities.”
Students said they are optimistic about the possibility of campus returning to normal.
“I would be happy,” Tyler Wilburn, a general studies major, said. “I miss the in-person interaction. I feel that doing class online doesn’t quite match the learning environment a classroom provides.”
The faculty is also ready to get back into a classroom setting.
“I am excited to get to meet with students in my class in person,” Beth Rodriguez, the program coordinator for the psychology department, said. “I feel that psychology is a topic that deserves discussion and it is more difficult to have this type of discussion over the computer.”
While distance learning doesn’t provide the same experience as being in a classroom, AC officials acknowledge its usefulness.
“Tech-supported and online learning will remain options for students. Some students actually preferred the tech-supported option, especially in the evening time slots,” Sobey said.