The Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science will operate fully online fall semester as less than one-third of students expressed intention to return to campus, according to an email sent to TAMS students and staff.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, 115 students out of nearly 400 were willing to come back to McConnell Hall, according to computer science and engineering track senior Jiné Frederick.
“I think it’s a good decision,” Frederick said. “When I say I wish I could go back, it’s for selfish reasons. But looking at all the spikes and deaths, it’s for the best.”
Frederick had initially planned to return to campus because she prefers in-person classes. Conversely, her classmate and biology track senior Navya Chintaman had already decided to complete the fall semester remotely.
“The cases never really seemed to be reducing, and so my family realized long-term that staying home was safer,” Chintaman said.
Both students said they share concerns regarding the separation of home life and schoolwork during the coming months.
“It’s not a problem that the classes are online,” Frederick said. “It’s being at home.”
While it is possible for TAMS students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to complete faculty-led research and course lab components in person, many students do not have their licenses yet and lack reliable transportation.
Chinatmin also said she lamented the fact she would not get the same community experience living remotely.
“TAMS is about the community experience, and the atmosphere of McConnell plays such a big role in that,” Chintamin said. “We won’t have that sense of community, which sucks, because the relationships we create at TAMS are the best part.”
It is not only the students at TAMS who face a semester unlike the previous. Kanza Jafri, a Program Advisor, is one of the 19 university student staff members at the academy.
“The students, the RAs [sic]. that’s the part I’ll really miss,” Jafri said. “But I’m thinking of my health and the people around me and I think it’s the right decision.”
Jafri will still live in McConnell Hall during the fall, but now as an isolation resident assistant. The hall has been converted to a quarantine space for university students that contract COVID-19.
The ten staff who chose to remain in McConnell will predominantly man the front desk and serve as a point of contact for the sick residents, who will be placed in an isolated wing.
“It’s going to be my last year of undergrad [sic] and it feels really surreal,” Jafri said. “It feels like it’s still in March when we found out we weren’t returning from spring break.”
Featured Illustration: Ali Jones