Image credits: Miguel Garcia
News Article

UNAM Not Ready for Face-To-Face Classes: Dean

By MBN Staff | Fri, 08/06/2021 - 17:48

Despite the federal government’s call to return to face-to-face activities in the next back-to-school period, Enrique Graue Wiechers, Dean of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), said that the university will only return to normal when it is safe to do so.

UNAM’s 2021-2022 school year is scheduled to begin in August 9 through online classes, following the consolidation of COVID-19 third wave in the country and the increasing number of cases in Mexico City.

Like most universities, UNAM suspended face-to-face classes back on Mar. 16, 2020. Considering the progress of vaccination campaigns, the university had made plans of reopening for the fall semester, but this will not happen. “Obviously with the pandemic as it is now we cannot come back, but we will when sanitary conditions are better,” Graue recently said to Milenio.

Although UNAM students still learn from home, the university took advantage of the good moments Mexico City had during the pandemic to implement several activities, such as “essential experimental trainings,” for students who wanted to visit its facilities. “We had already authorized some essential activities that require students to be present, such as experimental training, clinic training and similar work,” explained Graue.

When asked about drop-out rate by the students, Graue said that UNAM is unaware of a considerable increase in this matter and explained that in a regular basis “15-20 percent” of the students drop out one or two signatures every semester. The only news is that UNAM is expecting to add “5000-6000” students that will probably drop out one or more practical signatures.

According to the official regulations for 2021-2022 school year UNAM published recently, university schools will be able to ask students to attend in person once the city’s epidemiological traffic light has been in green for at least three consecutive weeks. Once this happens, activities will slowly come back to normal, starting with very reduced groups as vaccination campaigns continue to advance among those between 18 and 29 years old.

Administrative affairs, graduation exams and similar essential activities will continue to be in the UNAM facilities, although with a maximum of 20 percent attendance when the events are in enclosed spaces.

Finally, Graue sent a message to the students that were eager to come back to their classrooms, recognizing that virtual activities do not offer the same experience but promising that “sooner than later” they will come back to face-to-face classes. “Beyond classes, there is something we learn in university and it is daily convivence. Being able to talk in the hallways and make friends for life, fall in love with whoever you are supposed to fall in love, those are some things we are not having with virtual education.”

“Let me tell you,” Graue added, “we are going to come back and the university will once again be the great meeting point it has always been, let us keep optimistic, hopeful and strong. Here we are and we are going to do it very well.”

Photo by:   Miguel Garcia
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