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UTEP releases fall course schedule with online focus; foreign students face obstacles

EL PASO, Texas -- UTEP's fall course schedule was released Tuesday, and because of Covid-19, it is far different than last year's schedule.

The university will hold in-person instruction, but it will be very limited and classrooms that do have face-to-face will have social distancing between students. UTEP will also offer hybrid instruction, which is a combination of both in-person, as well as virtual classes.

According to UTEP President Heather Wilson, the university normally offers around 3,800 different sections, or in-person courses. In the past, only 12 percent of those classes were offered on line, but now only 100 courses will be strictly in-person instruction. The fall 2020 course schedule can be viewed at

Classrooms will hold fewer students given Covid-19 restrictions. The maximum number of students in large classroom settings will be 50 students per class.

If students have an in-classroom course and don't feel safe returning to classrooms, faculty will work with students to make sure they will have access to that course either online or possibly record the course for future viewing.

Wilson said the university will work with students who don't have access to technology with funding from both the CARES Act, as well as private funding, to provide them with the technology they need to successfully achieve their educational needs.

Besides fewer in-person classrooms, and more online courses, the university will also offer free Covid-19 testing. Wilson said biology, epidemiology and information technology staff are setting up a system to test large numbers of students on campus every day when they return this fall.

In previous years, as many as 7,000 students would show up to campus during the fall semester. But this fall, the university expects fewer than 800 students to be on campus at a time.

Meanwhile, international students in the U.S. face a new challenge, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced students could face deportation if universities switch to online courses only.

UTEP is home to more than 1,400 international students, leaving some fearful that their futures could be put on hold.

"There are only two purposes for these rules. One to punish international students, or two, to open up university campuses and either of those are cruel," said UTEP Prof. Todd Curry.

The university is working with students on an individual basis, and those with questions are being told to reach out to UTEP's Office of International Programs.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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