By Rylee Glazner and Erica Vanbuskirk
Amarillo College has been able to bring back on-campus learning this fall with safety as the number one priority, according to college officials.
Joe Wyatt, AC communications coordinator, said the college has stepped up cleaning and sanitization to control the spread of the coronavirus.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t see or experience firsthand somebody from the physical plant here at the college coming around spraying and cleaning in addition to all the normal activities that would go on before COVID,” Wyatt said.
Other areas of the college such as the library have incorporated additional cleaning habits.
“We sanitize after every student has left,” Emily Gilbert, the director of the library, said. “I’ve had some students come up to me or go up to others and thank us for sanitizing.”
Neither masks nor vaccinations are mandated at AC. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated, but it is not a requirement,” said Becky Burton, the associate vice president of academic learning and student health liaison. Burton also encouraged students, “Wear a mask and social distance where you can.”
Some students said they feel the college is taking adequate precautions. “I think it’s enough,” biology major, said. “They can only do so much at some point.”
Other students said they wish the AC would require masking.
“I feel like a mask mandate maybe should be put in place,” Elyjah Evins, an environmental science major, said.
“I think it is kind of confusing because I think we all should wear masks or we should not at all,” Angela Erving, a music major, said.
Wyatt said he supports masking. “I think that wearing a mask is uncomfortable and annoying, but it’s for the greater whole of our society.”
Many professors are continuing to wear masks on campus. “In the lecture classes, I wear a mask into the class, but take it off when lecturing, keeping my distance from the student,” said Don Abel, a mass media assistant professor.
Students and staff members have differing opinions about COVID vaccinations. “I’m all about science. It makes sense to me, Wyatt said.
Others said they feel that vaccination should be a personal choice. “If you want to get it, get it,” Simpson said. “If you don’t want to get it, then don’t get it.”
Burton said that another way the college protects students is by requiring students to report exposure, pending tests or quarantining due to COVID.
“Students are doing a good job reporting when they are quarantined or positive,” she said.
When classes first began, AC was requiring entire classes to quarantine after a student who attended that class reported a positive test or COVID exposure. “Both of my classes got switched to online,” Daityn Whittaker, a graphic design major, said.
After the first week of semester, in response to the large number of classes that had been moved online, AC officials changed the quarantine procedures.
According to AC’s COVID protocol webpage, students who have tested positive are still required to quarantine for at least 10 days. If a large number of students decide to quarantine, the professor can choose to shift to online.
Many seem to be in agreement that Amarillo College is taking necessary measures to ensure safety.
“I just want us all to think about each other and I want everybody to be safe,” Gilbert said.