New Mexico Tech President Stephen G. Wells took to YouTube to welcome students back for the fall semester and to allay concerns about what steps have been to reduce the risk of virus spread. In the video, Wells said Tech’s response to planning to contain the pandemic has been rigorous and comprehensive.

“It has involved input from representatives across all divisions of the university and community,” Wells said. “We’re also working closely with the City of Socorro and the state for a healthy environment for all our students and staff and faculty.”

Wells gave kudos to the city’s mayor, Dr. Ravi Bhasker, for stemming any significant rise in positive COVIDE-19 cases.

“His medical expertise has helped Socorro implement a number of measures such as requiring face sovereigns before they were mandated by the state of New Mexico,” he said, noting that Bhasker instituted a mask ordinance as early as April 13.

Accordion to school administration, all courses will be offered in online hybrid face-to-face modes, allowing a student the option of in-person class attendance or remote instruction.

“If any student or potential student is vulnerable or has a family member that’s vulnerable, has a medical need, or simply not comfortable with attending classes in person, they have the option of receiving a course instruction online,” Wells said.

He noted that all classrooms and research facilities have been modified to accommodate COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

“Instruction in the classroom requires faculty and students to wear face-covering while delivering instruction and making presentations, and all students will wear masks when taking classes,” Wells said. “All campus buildings are sanitized regularly and hand sanitizer is made available across the entire campus.”

All the policies put in place align with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s statewide executive orders and the New Mexico Department of Health and the Center of Disease Control directives.

“With respect to residential life New Mexico Tech is guaranteeing a single occupancy student housing for all new incoming students who have applied and paid housing deposit by June 15,” he said. “Our precautionary steps to provide most of our available rooms to single occupancy has significantly reduced our overall housing capacity. Returning students and freshmen may petition for a roommate and be placed in a double occupancy opportunity based on availability.”

Dining and meal delivery will also be adapting to a new normal.

“Our plans to provide meal service has been thought out very carefully,” Wells said. “Meals will continue to be served out of our dining facility in Fidel Center.”

Depending on current state restrictions on indoor dining, meals will either be served in the Field dining area or with grab-and-go meals.

“The appropriate number of tables and chairs have been removed from our dining facility to comply with the governor’s order on social distancing for inside dining,” he said. “And we’re also prepared for grab and go options.

“If any students living on our campus have the need to be self-quarantined they will have their meals delivered to their room,” Wells said.

Masks are required campus-wide, and the university will make those available.

“It’s our goal to provide kits for all our new and returning students that will include two face masks with New Mexico Tech logos, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and other key materials to help students remain healthy over the academic year,” Wells said. “All students will be required to wear masks or face coverings while on campus except in their dorm room or apartment.

“In spite of the pandemic, we continue to support our students with appropriately modified services, as it is critical to the college experience,” Wells said. “Those include counseling services, disability services, the Office of Student Learning, Skeen Library, and of course the student health center.”

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