EL DORADO, Ark. (07/22/20) — EL DORADO, Ark. (07/22/20) — A recent El Dorado High School graduate is preparing for college amid the coronavirus pandemic.
If everything goes according to plan, Emma Thomas will be heading off to Texas A&M University in just a couple of weeks. While she’s been beaming in excitement, there’s a part of her that’s hesitant about the unknown.
“Texas has really bad cases and they go up every single day,” she said.
According to the Brazos County Health District, the county has just under 1,000 active cases. Approximately 50 percent of those that have tested positive are between the ages of 20-39.
With the rises in cases daily across Texas, Emma is certain her freshman year experience won’t be anything like what she had in mind.
“We had a freshman camp and that was online. I’m rushing in the fall and that’s online too. Howdy week is like syllabus week and that’s also cancelled,” Emma said.
“Everything’s just not the same. I was fully expecting full rush, bid day, football games and to meet so many people and just to feel like I’m part of a big Aggie family.”
According to the university, face coverings are required on campus, seats will be placed six feet apart and classrooms will be cleaned twice daily.
University officials expect more than 50 percent of course sections will be offered face-to-face, while 75 percent of students likely will have two or more courses in person.
Emma, who is majoring in International Studies with an emphasis in Politics and Diplomacy, is enrolled in all online classes with the exception of one class which will be held on campus.
She’ll have little contact with peers outside of her three room mates.
“That’s it and it’s going to be a lot harder for me to branch out because of it,” she said. “So, I’m kind of nervous about it.”
The university has stated it plans to remain fully committed to students during these uncertain times. The Texas A&M System plans to send out about 15,000 mouth coronavirus test kits each month to be distributed across its 11 university campuses.
Even though Emma is entering into a brand new environment during a pandemic, she’s doing her best to stay ahead of the curve.
“Stay positive and study even though it’s going to be really difficult especially getting back into the groove of things because we haven’t had school in 4 months,” she said.
Emma doesn’t know what the future holds but she’s making sure she remains safe and healthy for herself and others.