By Haley Bartlett, Editor-in-Chief
White circles painted on Chamberlain Field welcome scattered clumps of students and faculty adorned in masks back to an uncertain time of education.
Campus is anything but the ordinary for the Mocs as the school year kicks off with hybrid learning and safety protocols for its students and faculties. Chancellor Steven Angle said that coming into the new academic year, only two things resided on the minds of the University.
“The two concerns are safety and quality of the academic program–the experience of our students,” he said. “How do we engage students?”
As a way to maintain a balance among students, most classrooms have adopted a mixed-learning environment where students can attend in-person learning on campus one day while the other will be online through Zoom or another application.
Angle said the hybrid option was a way to keep the number of students down on campus while still allowing for limited interactions.
Connor Fay, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, will be doing the mixed-learning style and said his first day back to campus was dead, but that social distance and health regulations seemed to be followed. He said he sees UTC moving fully online at some point though.
“I think this is gonna be a tough semester honestly, but I’m not great at online classes,” he said. “I think the University is handling it okay, but I do have a feeling that we’ll be all moved back to 100% online by the end of the semester.”
While UTC has implemented certain guidelines to allow for the highest level of safety such as restricting the number of classmates in a room, Welcome Week is set to go on, albeit slightly different from past semester.
“A sense of community is so important, so we are trying to allow interactions but in the safest way possible; what we don’t want to do is have our students show up and be totally disconnected,” Angle said in regards to the week of activities.
Angle stated that the events have been split up between virtual and select in-person events that will be capped at a number of participants alongside following the mask mandate and social distant guidelines. Yet even so, the Goat Yoga event held the morning of Tuesday, August 18 showed students closer together than six feet apart.
There are a number of uncertainties that still plague the upcoming year and while the present time surrounding the novel coronavirus is a learning experience for all, UTC has taken certain precautions to protect themselves financially in the event of future closures. Each student is required to agree to a statement on their MocsNet account before accessing their financial statements:
“I understand that the University’s tuition and mandatory fees will be the same regardless of whether classes and other educational experiences are face-to-face or online, and that the University will not be refunding (or pro-rating) any tuition or fees in the event that the University decides to move classes and other educational experiences to an online or other format.”
The agreement further states that any fees required through maintenance, tuition and other mandatory fees such as those for lab courses will not be refundable on or after September 14. When questioned about the agreement, Angle said they tried to be as clear and fair as possible.
“Some of them are fixed costs,” he said. “The ARC fees are actually going to the debt service that built the ARC, so the cost doesn’t go away.”
Angle added that the University is just as anxious as everybody else—that it’s new for everyone— and they are trying to look out for the students as best as possible.