By Allen Lin, Staff Writer-
UTC Chancellor, Steve Angle, announced UTC will return to normal for the fall 2021 semester. According to his statement, he announced normal operations would include face-to-face instruction and in-person activities giving students a traditional experience pre-COVID.
Chancellor Angle informed the community the University will continue to monitor the cases and vaccine availability, and the plan is subject to be adjusted if necessary. You can read the rest of the statement here.
Christine Smith, the Director for the School of Nursing and Chief Health Affairs Officers at UTC, said the University would adhere to CDC guidelines with respect to students wearing masks and social distancing.
“This all depends on what is happening in the community in regard to COVID over the summer. If the CDC recommends continuing these things, UTC will continue as well. If the CDC says no masks and no social distancing, we would gladly consider changing as well,” she said.
Smith continued to express what she hopes will come in the fall semester.
“I am hopeful that we will see a continuation of the downward trend. I feel sure that this is a combination of many things including vaccination, mask use and social distancing. The one thing to remember is to continue with these strategies as we are not in the clear yet.”
With regard to a possible vaccine requirement, Smith said, “That would be a decision made by the UT system and President Boyd in consultation with the chancellors of each campus.”
Some students like Lio Lado, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, are cautiously optimistic with the prospects of returning to normal for the fall 2021 semester.
“I am unsure because we just start seeing the vaccines rolling out. I think we have to wait and see in the summer what the cases are. If the cases are declining, then I am cool with it.”
Other students commented on the university’s Instagram post,”UTChattanooga,” by voicing their support for the return to normalcy.
A group of parents on the UTC Parents Facebook page are supportive with the administration’s decisions to return to normal.
One of the parents, Stephanie Covington said,
“I have been impressed with how UTC has handled the Fall 2020 semester and because of that I don’t have any reservations regarding a return to normalcy in the fall of 2021. I would, however, hope that campus facilities, including dining options, will all be back to being fully staffed and open normal business hours.”
Another parent, Kim Phillips is focused on how introducing more campus activities will improve students’ mental health.
“I am excited for the students to return to UTC for their mentally and emotionally wellbeing. On-campus activities, camaraderie and in-person instruction are crucial in the growth of young adults”.
Finally, Kary Choate, mother of a UTC junior and member of a UTC sorority, said the return to in-person classes is the best route the university could take, due to the ineffectiveness of certain online classes.
“I am glad to see UTC making an attempt to return to normal. Many students do not do well completely online, and many classes just can’t be taught well online. I appreciate what the school did to keep our students as healthy as possible the last year, but it is time to start living again”.
The University announced the return to normalcy for the fall 2021 semester but is open to changes should COVID-19 conditions change.