College kicks-off spring semester with virtual convocation

College kicks-off spring semester with virtual convocation

Uvalde, TX, January 14, 2021 - President Hector Gonzales kicked off the spring convocation at Southwest Texas Junior College with his annual welcome to faculty and staff on Tuesday, Jan. 12, via Zoom.

Gonzales began by introducing new faculty and staff, including patient care technician instructors, Kristi Cervantez and Christina Crowley, Cotulla; associate degree nursing instructor, Margorie Lieck, Uvalde; cosmetology instructor, Jessica De La Luz, Uvalde; financial aid advisor, Rene D. Maldonado, Del Rio; A/C and refrigeration instructor, Antonio V. Ruiz, Jr., Uvalde and aviation instructor, Donald J. McBlain, Del Rio.

Concerning the pandemic, Gonzales commented on how the college has become more robust due to the obstacles brought on by COVID-19.

“Not everything that happened in 2020 was necessarily bad,” said Gonzales. “We learned a lot about ourselves individually and also as an institution that is going to make us stronger.”

Gonzales reported 42 exposures to COVID-19 and 62 positive cases to date among faculty, staff, and students. Currently, seven individuals are out on quarantine due to exposure, while 14 are out with positives results.

“None of those positives were a result of exposures on campus,” Gonzales said. “Based on the positives that we’ve seen in Uvalde, over 95 percent of those cases are occurring from home or close family gatherings.”

President Gonzales addressed the reopening plans for the college and continuing with the current remote methods of instruction.

The college is planning on easing into a more face-to-face mode of instruction for the summer and fall semesters, along with a reduced opening of the college dorms in the summer and the daycare in April.

Gonzales said the reduced reopen plans are contingent on the number of COVID-19 cases in the college 11-county service area.

Concerning the remote methods of servicing college students, Gonzales said the college would not be doing away with virtual and online tutoring, advising, and instruction methods in the post-COVID-19 environment.

“We have expanded our capacity to offer online and Zoom tutoring and advising. It offers more flexibility and more access to our students,” said Gonzales. “I envision we will have face-to-face courses, and we’ll have formal two-way video courses, we’ll have Zoom flex courses, and online courses. I think that makes sense for us as we move forward.

Following President Gonzales’ welcome, Derek Sandoval, vice president of administrative services, gave a reopen committee update.

Convocation will continue through Friday with various professional development opportunities, division, and department meetings. The first day of classes for the spring 2021 semester is Tuesday, Jan. 19.