NMSU plans to offer vaccinations, in-person learning for fall 2021

Signs+of+normalcy+on+campus+are+beginning+to+return%2C+such+as+these+interviews+led+by+the+NMSU+Marketing+Department+for+their+project%2C+Be+Bold+2025.+

Jason McNabb

Signs of normalcy on campus are beginning to return, such as these interviews led by the NMSU Marketing Department for their project, Be Bold 2025.

New Mexico State University plans to open to nearly full capacity for the fall semester and create opportunities to vaccinate all students, staff and faculty who wish to receive the vaccine.

On March 10, NMSU President John Floros announced via email to student staff and faculty that NMSU was planning on having a “conventional” fall semester. This would include more in-person classes, athletics and “other events traditionally associated with the college experience.”

The NMSU branch campuses are being allowed to make their own plans for next semester based on the needs of their community and county.

Other universities across the country are also planning to have more in-person classes and on-campus activities. In New Mexico, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, and Western New Mexico are some of those planning to open up more according to a KRQE article. 

In an interview, Floros noted that the goal is to go back to a normal structure.

“What we want to do is to basically open up and be as close as we used to be back in the fall of 2019,” Floros said. “So, have face-to-face classes, as many face-to-face classes as people want to, bring back social events [and] bring back athletic events.”

The plan is to make more classes in-person, with a fair amount of classes online or hybrid. He said all academic units have been instructed to offer as many in-person classes as students need, while still making sure switching back to online is possible and smooth if it becomes needed.

Floros said they are trying to get NMSU its own allotment of vaccines so that NMSU can start vaccinating its students, staff and faculty starting in May.

“By [the start of the semester] we will have the ability to vaccinate everybody who wants to get vaccinated. But based on rules and regulations we cannot demand that everybody is vaccinated,” Floros said.

Floros said he thinks because of the amount of people being vaccinated and willing to be vaccinated there won’t be another big wave— if there is it won’t be as bad as the first ones—and that NMSU will not need to go fully online again.

“If things look like the way we think things are going to look—high vaccination rate, herd immunity, very few people unvaccinated, very small number of cases, if any—then we should pretty much return to what I call a conventional or normal way of life,” Floros said.

First-year education graduate student and president and captain of the NMSU women’s rugby club, Alicia Pacheco said the pandemic has had a big effect on the team.

“Our spring season last year got completely cut off because of the pandemic but I never expected that it would turn into an entire year before we were able to play again … Trying to recruit people is another challenge since we are unable to do most of our recruitment strategies due to the pandemic. Everything has become more difficult since the pandemic started,” Pacheco said.

During the pandemic, the rugby club was unable to do any tabling events to recruit or fundraisers to help with club costs. Pacheco said it was almost like having to start over completely.

“I expect that we will be able to go almost back to normal and be able to start recruiting and fundraising as well as be able to start traveling and playing a lot more games like we did before the pandemic hit,” Pacheco said.

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