NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Universities, including Stephen F. Austin State University, decided months ago to introduce a bit of ‘normalcy’ on campus. Some in-person activities are opening up. Despite rising COVID-19 cases, the events remain on the calendar. So it stays that way, participants stress practicing virus precautions.
SFA senior Kev’Ron Madden is graduating in December. He plans to walk the stage at the university’s first in-person graduation ceremony since last year.
“It’s a big milestone,” said the marketing major.
Madden says his family reached the decision automatically, despite recent COVID-19 spikes around his hometown of Longview.
“I’m just asking my parents and my family to abide by the safety guidelines that are given to them. Most importantly wear a mask. It’s going to be your best friend.”
COVID-19 cases at SFA have been relatively low. On Tuesday, SFA president Dr. Scott Gordon shared a report of known cases.
“Currently, we have six cases and only three of the 200 isolation spaces are currently being used,” shared Gordon at a chamber of commerce conference call.
But statewide case counts are higher than what they were last May when ceremonies were canceled.
Student leader Christopher Moore says graduation will be spread out over two days. December’s graduation won’t look anything like traditional commencements.
“Instead of allowing everybody to enter the coliseum, they’re allowing the graduates six tickets, so it really secludes the amount of people in the area and also there is going to be proper spacing in the coliseum as well,” said Moore.
Normalcy is showing up in other areas.
Friday evening the SFA jazz band performed its one and only live performance in downtown Nacogdoches.
And thru Saturday, at the Kennedy Auditorium, the theatre department presents a play in-person. It will also be live-streamed.
A bit of escapism, but not for long.
“Our classes will be mostly remote after Thanksgiving and our plan right now is to start spring classes on January 8,” explained Gordon.
Earlier than usual to accommodate newer, flexible 8-week sessions offered in addition to the ‘normal’ 16-week courses.
Registration is now underway for the spring semester.