TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The clock is ticking towards the end of the fall semester at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Throughout the semester, the university has implemented their “Return to Normal” plan with several COVID-19 protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus. UT Tyler President Dr. Michael Tidwell says that plan was effective, but with a bit of a learning curve.
“I think one of the bigger challenges that we had to adapt to is that students come to college because they want to get together and meet other people. I think we underestimated the magnetism that students were going to have with one another. We had to make sure that we continue to remind them that it is important that when they are together, they do so in a safe way and a very responsible way,” Tidwell said.
According to data from the university, nearly 7,000 students and staff have been tested for COVID-19 since the beginning of the semester, with 265 of those coming back positive.
“The cases that we have had on campus we were able to track to either students studying together, which again we want our students to study and do well in their classes, or students getting together in clubs or other kinds of settings,” Tidwell said.
Tidwell says required masks, 50% capacity in the classroom, and social distancing have helped curtail infections on campus.
“We have more in person classes here at UT Tyler than any other campus in the UT system, so we have really embraced again bringing our students back to campus for one reason and one reason only. Students learn better when they have a faculty member and classmates to interact with on a day to day basis,” Tidwell said.
Students will not return to campus following their Thanksgiving break. Final exams will be held online.
A graduation ceremony will be held in spring 2021 that will celebrate the spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 graduates.