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Thousands of NMSU students returned to the New Mexico State University campus on Wednesday, Aug. 19, with typical excitement to begin the fall 2020 semester. But this first day of classes is unlike any other fall semester.
Chancellor Dan Arvizu walked the campus, talking to students and faculty as they made their way to attend classes in specially disinfected, technology-upgraded classrooms to begin a new era of education.
“The first day of classes always brings such an incredible energy to our campus,” Arvizu said. “It was great to have an opportunity to speak with our students and hear how they are happy to be back on campus. They genuinely seem to understand the importance of this situation, especially when it comes to social distancing and wearing face coverings.”
It’s been five months since NMSU students left the campus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact is still felt today as about 9 percent of the students at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus are taking fully face-to-face classes this fall semester as opposed to 52 percent of students who took face-to-face courses in fall 2019. A total of 39 percent of the students are taking classes fully online this year as opposed to 11 percent at the same time last year. Those choosing hybrid selections, a mixture of face-to-face and online courses, round out at 52 percent this fall while 37 percent selected classes with hybrid instruction in fall 2019.
There are other reminders of the new educational environment. All students are asked to make the Crimson Commitment, a pledge to help students understand expectations about mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and disinfecting spaces for the health and wellbeing of everyone on the NMSU campus.
Vending machines filled with personal protective masks, shields, gloves and hand sanitizer are located in buildings around campus and the items are free to students through the end of August.
Testing is a significant part of the ongoing efforts to ensure safety of the faculty, staff and students at NMSU. Aggie Health and Wellness Center is partnering with the New Mexico Department of Health to offer asymptomatic testing by appointment only through the campus health center Aug. 25–27 and Sept. 1–3.
“We are doing everything possible to create a safe space for our students coming back to campus this semester,” said Lori McKee, executive director of the Aggie Health and Wellness Center. “Testing can help us to keep an eye on COVID-19 in our campus community.”
For the many students who are continuing fully online, NMSU’s Student Life office has coordinated many socially distant types of activities for students to help create as full a campus experience as possible: https://deanofstudents.nmsu.edu/.
More information about NMSU’s preparations to return to campus is at ready.nmsu.edu.