Plans for Reopening Highlands Campus Stress Health and Safety

photo of Dr. Sam Minner

Dr. Sam Minner

Las Vegas, New Mexico – New Mexico Highlands University is moving ahead cautiously to reopen its campus for fall semester 2020, according to Sam Minner, the university’s president.

“The health and safety of the Highlands family will be honored above all else,” Minner said. “Although I anticipate some form of face to face instruction this fall as well as some online delivery, it is important to me that everyone at HU carefully consider their own health situation and the health of their loved ones as we return to campus.”

Minner said some colleagues will return to campus while some will not.

“This ‘family first’ approach honors individual perspectives while also considering the needs of students and our organization’s educational mission,” Minner said.

Minner said it is impossible to know what New Mexico requirements, if any, will be in force on the date of fall semester opening, which remains scheduled for Aug. 19.

“I assure everyone that we will comply with each and every state requirement. If we cannot meet those requirements for any reason, we will not open for face to face instruction. Given the fluid nature of COVID-19, we must be prepared to quickly transition to online and distance education modalities if needed,” Minner said.

Minner said numerous efforts are being made to plan for a healthy and safe opening in various areas of university operations such as instructional programming, housing, food service, facilities, student life and athletics.

Minner said specifics about the health and safety measures Highlands will take on campus are still being discussed with numerous groups including the State of New Mexico, the NCAA, the faculty union, and others.

“Some of the steps we are taking to make campus more safe will depend on conditions immediately prior to fall opening and will likely include things like adhering to social distancing guidelines, not offering large lecture classes, limiting capacity of residence halls, installing Plexiglas barriers at counters where students are served, a frequent coronavirus testing protocol, employing contact tracing methods, diligent sanitizing of campus spaces, and much more,” Minner said.

Minner added: “Unless safety dictates otherwise, Highlands will be among the majority of university and college campuses nationwide that will open their doors to some form of face to face instruction for the fall semester. But again, considerations of health and safety will drive decisions on campus.”

Minner said there are no plans at this time to change the finals exam schedule, which is set for Dec. 7 – 11.

The plan for reopening the Highlands campus for fall semester 2020 applies to all of the university’s statewide centers.