BEAUMONT, Texas — With COVID-19 cases on the rise, area schools and universities are making plans to safely welcome students back to campuses.
Lamar University is set to welcome back students on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Officials with the university are focused on keeping staff and students safe while also maintaining a sense of normalcy.
“We are 100 percent back to face-to-face instructions this semester,” Shelbie Rodriguez, Lamar university's public relations manager, said.
While many colleges across the nation are choosing to have a virtual semester, Lamar plans to welcome students back in person. However, there will be some flexibility.
Students will have the option to register for in-person, online, or hybrid classes. It is up to each individual student to choose which option will work best for them.
“We do have in-person, face-to-face courses. We have online courses and we have hybrid,” Rodriquez said.
While university officials are eager to return to a sense of normalcy, they are encouraging students to follow necessary precautions such as mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing.
“We want our students in our campus community to be mindful when touching surfaces, you know,” Rodriguez said. “If you have to give a fist bump, go ahead and do that, but we encourage you guys to wear your mask when you're indoors or can't socially distance."
Officials are also highly encouraging students to self-report if they contract COVID-19 or have COVID-19-like symptoms. Self-reporting will help the university track keep track of the COVID-19 spread on campus and alter guidelines if needed.
“The biggest challenge is kind of taking that fear away,” Rodriguez said. “Of course, we have to continue life, you know, we have to continue on and our students want to feel that normalcy.”
Some Lamar University students told 12News that experiencing COVID-19 scares themselves has changed their perception of COVID-19 precautions.
“I actually caught COVID, so it changed my mindset on having COVID,” L’Karion Cartwright, Lamar University senior, said. “It was a big eye-opener. Just, you know, me not really taking those precautions. So now making sure I am taking those precautions.”
Students said the upcoming spring semester will bring with it a unified and individual effort to keep each other safe.
“Not only just looking for everyone else to do it, but you take an action on your own to just you know, keep yourself safe,” Cartwright said.
University officials are looking forward to having a safe semester.
“We are excited to get our students back here this spring semester and we're ready for you,” Rodriguez said.
Lamar University has a system of self-reporting on its website. Students are encouraged to fill out the survey online if they catch the virus or experience any signs of it.
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