UCO Adjusts Classroom Plans for COVID-19 Safety
By: BreAnna Hall
The University of Central Oklahoma has announced new safety procedures for the fall semester to prepare for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
For the safety of the entire university community, UCO has implemented new protocols to promote social distancing both in and out of the classrooms. Students can expect a number of changes, including reduced seating for in-person classes.
“Seats in our in-person classes are being reduced [or] blocked off to allow for social [and] physical distancing,” said Adrienne Nobles, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs. “Our facilities team will remove furniture as needed for the physical distance plan for each classroom.”
Additionally, UCO is expanding virtual classroom opportunities in an effort to promote social distancing on campus and give students more options.
“Students who enroll in an extended classroom section will have a virtual seat, joining the class remotely at the scheduled class time,” Nobles said. “This provides an option for students who do not want to attend in person, who cannot get an in-person seat in a class with reduced capacity or do not want to wear a mask.”
According to Nobles, the extended classrooms will utilize new technology including cameras that will track professor movements to give students the experience of being in class. UCO outfitted over 100 classrooms with the upgraded equipment in advance of the fall semester.
The university has seen a small decrease in enrollment numbers from last fall. 11,259 students had enrolled as of The Vista’s inquiry, compared to 11,532 in fall 2019.
New safety measures will also affect the flow of the fall semester for students with scheduled classes, according to information released by the university. Students will no longer have a fall break and will conclude face-to-face instruction at thanksgiving, transitioning to online learning for finals.
The university will place hand sanitizer and disinfectant throughout campus for students use. Students are responsible for sanitizing after in-class sessions, according to the plan.
UCO is also implementing new cleaning schedules for buildings. According to Nobles, cooperation is the key to a successful resumption of in-person instruction at the university.
“These plans work best when we all take part. We all need to be diligent in following CDC guidelines both on and off campus,” Nobles said. “Taking these actions benefits the entire community, and will help us get past the pandemic more quickly.”
In-person instruction resumes Aug. 17, according to UCO’s currently published fall schedule. The Vista will continue to monitor the university’s reopening plan and provide updates as they become available.