AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - As the Panhandle continues to see a spike in COVID-19 cases, local universities like West Texas A&M are hoping this is not a trend they see on their campus.
“Our feeling is that we hope we don’t see the results from this week, an increase. However, we’re prepared for an increase because that is likely based on what we’re seeing nationally and in our region in general,” said Dr. Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations at WTAMU.
According to a recent health alert issued by the university, there were 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the week of October 5, through the 11.
53 of these cases were among students, nine of which were attending classes online while 44 attended courses on campus. The other three cases were among university employees.
Since March 1, there have been a total of 192 confirmed cases among WT students and employees, with 46 percent of the current cases reported within the last two weeks.
“It’s not over, COVID is still out there, we’ve got more cases that are continuing to happen. We need to be more vigilant now than we were, you know, three months ago when we came back to campus,” said Jonathan Winn, undergraduate student at WT.
“We are carefully monitoring and basically daily making decisions with regards to our ability to keep our community safe with rising cases and also providing the proper kinds of quarantine or isolation that are needed," said Rasberry. “At this point we have not issued any changes to our campus community. What we have done is to remind our community of the importance of following those safety protocols."
Winn says the WT community is taking the situation very seriously, with most students wearing masks as well as all the faculty.
“I think it starts from the top down, right. So I think Dr. Wendler has to make it a big deal and I think he’s doing a good job with that, and then I think the teachers have to make sure that they’re making a big deal because they set the tone for the rest of the campus,” said Winn.
While the situation is different than it was in the spring, WT continues following guidance from several local, state and federal agencies as well as the Texas A&M system.
“I think WT staying open this long, it’s definitely, the measures are effective,” said Winn.
Some factors that could contribute to a one to two weeks closure of the school include a shutdown order by the state or federal government as well as officials not having the capability to provide safety for those in quarantine.
As of now, the university has no plans of classes going back to a virtual format unless positive cases reach a critical level.
Rasberry hopes for a safe return in the spring 2021 semester and says university officials have already begun making plans that look very similar to the fall in terms of courses and safety protocols.
To stay up-to-date on the coronavirus situation at WTAMU, you can visit the university’s Coronavirus Information page.