In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) converted all spring semester classes to online formats in March. UNM-LA faculty who were teaching in-person classes quickly converted to new teaching techniques to continue to provide their students the opportunity to complete courses with high quality instruction.
Faculty who were experienced in online delivery served as mentors for those less experienced in the modality. Online classes continue to be offered for the summer semester.
“For the fall semester, we are carefully considering the requirements that may be needed to meet New Mexico guidelines for safety, and we plan to offer a schedule that allows students to start or continue their academic journey in a variety of modalities: online, hybrid, and face-to-face,” UNM-LA Chancellor Cindy Rooney said. “We are committed to providing a high-quality education at a reasonable cost, and we are making sure that our fall schedule will meet the needs of our student and that we are following recommended protocols. Given the possibility of disruptions to individuals or to the community, all faculty are developing contingency plans for absences and a potential transition of any class to a remote learning environment.”
The past spring semester provided an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to demonstrate resilience, initiative, and persistence. Students enrolled in face-to-face classes developed new organizational skills to schedule their time while meeting and completing assignments through an online platform. Those students taking online classes often encountered new challenges as access to public computers became limited. UNM-LA Student Services continued to work with students through various methods, including email, telephone and Zoom sessions. Instructors reached out to students to check in on how they were adapting, offering extra encouragement and support.
Summer classes are being offered online and UNM-LA is reporting a higher than average enrollment.
"There are always some visiting students from other colleges taking core classes at UNM-LA in the summer. Many have taken classes with us before and know they will get excellent instruction at a very reasonable cost,” said Kathryn Vigil, director of Student Affairs. “We have heard from some that they have more flexibility this summer and are taking advantage of the opportunity to get ahead.”
A few essential staff are on campus, and a phased-in, prioritized approach is being used for other functions to return to campus. In preparation for when the New Mexico Department of Health allows universities to resume in-person classes, UNM is identifying a few classes that will be the first to return to campus.
"Students have different needs, different learning styles, and technologically, there are many differences to consider,” Rooney said. “Some students live where internet reception is very limited, and some do not have their own computers. We have a team of talented individuals working on a plan to re-open campus and discussing various proposals for the fall semester. During this pandemic, we are consistently reminded that plans are in pencil, and not etched in stone.”