Monday, October 05, 2020
I wanted to give you an update on where we are as we begin mid-terms this week.
In the last few weeks, the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in El Paso have begun to rise again after an extended period of steady decreases.
On the UTEP campus, the situation is a little different. Our strategies to suppress the disease seem to be working. People have been using best health practices: wearing face coverings, maintaining at least six feet of distance from others, washing hands regularly and staying home if they are sick.
Through our Coronavirus Proactive Testing Program, we have completed more than 10,000 coronavirus tests. Our positivity rate through that program is 1%, which is substantially lower than the positivity rate for the community around us.
We have had a few instances where an individual who was in a campus classroom later tested positive for COVID-19. In all cases so far, they were wearing a mask and socially distant on campus. Campus officials quickly contacted the people who may have been in the same classroom with that person to encourage them to get tested. So far, none of those tests have come back positive.
Getting the basics right seems to work.
This week, we are offering drive-thru testing in the SC1 parking lot off Schuster Avenue at the Spur 1966 roundabout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 5, 6 and 7. As always, no appointment is necessary. Testing is intended for people who have to be on campus this semester and do NOT have symptoms of disease
While we are coping with the disease around us pretty well, we know that doing so much learning by distance can be difficult. We are social beings and, sometimes, we learn best with others. It is more important than ever for faculty and staff to be present and accessible to students.
Now is when it usually feels like the semester is long. That is particularly true this semester when it can feel both long and a little lonely.
Let’s recommit ourselves to look for creative ways to stay connected and engaged and moving forward together. Check in with each other.
Students, take advantage of the opportunities available to connect with one another, even if they are virtual. This could mean participating in study groups, student organizations, recreation activities or tutoring sessions. We have many resources available to you, including counseling, technology resources, and the Student Health and Wellness Center. If you don’t know where to find information about any of these options, reach out to your professor or the Dean of Students’ Office.
Thanks for everything you’re doing in a really unusual time. Everybody makes it.