SAN ANGELO, Texas — Howard College in San Angelo is planning on letting students return to campus this fall, according to Kaitlyn Brosh, the director of student life, marketing and outreach at the college.
“For the fall semester, as of right now, we are planning on having face-to-face classes, as well as having the online classes and hybrid classes that we always have. They may only meet once a week instead of twice a week and other coursework online. There will also be decreased capacity. If the room can hold 35, we’ll bring that number down so that everybody can be socially distanced properly. We’re encouraging face coverings, and we’ve got hand sanitizing stations throughout the facilities," Brosh said.
The staff is already back on campus, working in their offices, according to Brosh.
"Those of us who meet with the students - financial aid, advisors, the office, admissions - they all have plexiglass covers. We’re following all of the recommendations from the federal and state levels on what we should do for safety purposes," she said.
Howard College's plans aren't set in stone, however. Brosh said because many of the students at Howard College are nontraditional students (the average age is 26, according to Brosh), and juggle coursework on top of having children and/or a job, the college has to wait to see what the local schools are going to do.
"A lot of them have careers, jobs, families, and children. For them, I think they’re really concerned about what the elementary schools and school systems are going to do because they had a rough spring; trying to homeschool children, as well as do their own homework, work from home…" Brosh said.
The uncertainty surrounding schools' re-openings may be the reason why Howard College's fall enrollment is significantly down right now, according to Brosh.
"They don’t want to register for classes if they’re going to have to homeschool their kids. I think we’re in a “wait-and-see” mode. A lot of them may have lost jobs or are trying to balance what is going to be their priority in the fall. There’s also a lot of depression and anxiety from COVID, and when you’re in that mode, adding college coursework is even more stressful," she said.
Brosh said the current priority for the staff at Howard College is figuring out backup plans, especially for the classes that require hands-on learning.
“Most of our general education courses - history, English, math - we’ve had those online in the past, for many semesters. What gets tricky is when you move into our more specialized programs: cosmetology, construction trades, health professions... We had been making moves to move some more of those things online anyway, and then we were forced into it during the spring, and we’ve continued to develop those courses for the students, to make them more online friendly. So, we’re trying to offer everything that we can, and have those alternative options, when available," she said.
Classes at Howard College are set to begin on August 24, 2020.