LUBBOCK, Texas — As Red Raiders prepare to return to campus amid Lubbock’s largest COVID-19 surge, Texas Tech University will maintain in-person classes while offering professors the option to request virtual learning until February 4.

Texas Tech Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Ronald Hendrick says this approach strikes the best balance between protecting students’ physical and academic well-being.

“There are different feelings, different styles of teaching, different types of courses, and so we’re leaving that really up to the faculty, the academic departments and the colleges to know what’s best at a local level,” Dr. Hendrick said. “To make those adjustments, again, with the mindfulness of people’s health but also the academic welfare, mental health and social well-being of our faculty, staff and students.” 

The university will also host on-campus testing sites and Friday vaccine clinics beginning this week. It will also continue to conduct contact-tracing to notify faculty when a member of their class tests positive.

When a student tests positive, they will be responsible for self-reporting their case to the university and for making arrangements for quarantine.

While the university encourages students to self-monitor for symptoms and test if they can, most students will not be required to get tested due to shortages.

“There’s a lot of limitations to test availability. We have limitations here,” Dr. Hendrick said. “The sheer difficulty in getting tests available for everyone, I think, makes that kind of impractical.”

Some students in classes with necessarily risky activities in class, such as performing arts, will be required to test.

The university’s message to students now is to get vaccinated, pack a mask, and consider postponing social events until the case numbers calm. Barring a dire rise in cases, leadership is hopeful all classes may go back to the classroom by February 4 or even sooner.

“Certainly, we can consider if things get particularly dire of doing something more sweeping, but I think what we’ve seen is that the Omicron variant in particular is highly transmissible and I think going to be very difficult to contain,” Dr. Hendrick said. “Whatever we can do to help flatten out that curve, minimize disruption, minimize people being sick particularly at one point in time is what we are going to be focused on… it’s clear that this virus is something that we’re going to be managing for the long-term.”