UNM Los Alamos

UNM-LA Responds To COVID-19 Pandemic

UNM-LA Responds To COVID-19 Pandemic

April 16, 2020 - UNM-LA News

Spring has arrived on the UNM-LA campus, brightening up the empty
campus while students, faculty and staff all work remotely.

Similar to other colleges and universities, UNM-LA shifted to remote operations in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The physical campus is closed except for essential personnel, but operations are continuing remotely.

Classes are now being delivered in an online format, with additional support provided for students and for faculty who may not have worked previously in online environments. Personnel in student services have been reaching out to students to identify challenges they may be experiencing with the transition.

UNM-LA has a designated tutor to help students dealing with the challenges of online classes. On the faculty side, experienced online faculty worked with faculty members who may have previously had limited online experience to convert classes to an online format.

There are some challenges with the availability of technology, internet service, and other access issues, but personnel are working to resolve problems as they are reported. Anyone who is having challenges related to the online classes should contact their course instructor and/or someone in student services.

At the UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) Advisory Board meeting held April 8 using Zoom technology, Chancellor Dr. Cindy Rooney presented a review of the actions taken by UNM-LA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reflecting on the timeline, Dr. Rooney indicated that it provides a perspective on how quickly things changed, especially in the early weeks.

Shortly after the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in New Mexico March 11, and the Governor’s announcement of a closure to K-12 schools March 12, a decision was made for UNM-LA and the UNM system March 13 to “extend” the regularly scheduled spring break for students by two weeks, which would suspend face-to-face classes for the period of March 14-April 5.

During the first week, instructors began plans to modify their delivery systems.

The following week, in response to concerns about social distancing, the decision was made to shift to remote operations for almost all activities.

A complete shift to remote operations became effective at 5 p.m. March 19, and the announcement indicated that this would continue until further notice.

All services, including classes, would continue, but now would be conducted remotely, using online technology. All campus buildings were closed to the public until further notice. UNM-LA regrets the inconvenience that this caused for various groups who often meet on the UNM-LA campus.

March 24, UNM-LA announced the decision to postpone graduation ceremonies, with a commitment to find alternative methods at a later time to honor the accomplishments of the graduates. Students are still working to complete courses and many students will still be able to complete their degrees this semester.

Those degrees will be awarded; it is only the ceremony that has been postponed.

UNM-LA employees in the Student Services area have been attempting to contact each student, to discuss how changes affect them and discuss what kind of support UNM-LA might provide.

Student Services continues to update and encourage students with emails and has scheduled Student Chats using Zoom video conference tools.

For faculty and staff, Rooney has sent email updates and now holds a weekly “virtual gathering” to share updates and address issues. Participants discuss successes and challenges, and also contemplate how this shift in remote operations may ultimately impact the future of UNM-LA and all of higher education.

Rooney, as president of the New Mexico Association of Community Colleges, has frequent contact with other college presidents and chancellors. She also participates in meetings with the Department of Higher Education and representatives from the governor’s office regularly.

More information about UNM-LA is available at losalamos.unm.edu.