Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell also begins its fall classes Aug. 17, but the college has had a small number of students in classes on campus since April.
Shawn Powell, president of ENMU-R, said that the COVID crisis is resulting in lower enrollment numbers so far in some programs, but he thinks that could change in the weeks ahead, especially for recent high school students from the area who had planned to attend colleges or universities out of state or elsewhere in New Mexico.
“I think as they get closer to this, and if conditions stay the same, I’m thinking that they will choose to stay close to home or in the county and take classes that will transfer over to their four-year institution at some point in the future,” he said.
Powell said enrollment in technical programs and health care programs remains strong, and that includes the nursing assistant program that has been meeting on campus since April, with state approval, given the critical need in the state for those types of workers.
The plan for fall classes, he said, is to offer a hybrid instructional model, but with the ability to switch to online or remote learning only if needed.
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“Our instructors will be working in a hybrid manner to blend that face-to-face instruction and the online instruction,” Powell said. “We do have some classes that will be face-to-face classes only.”
In addition to nursing assisting, programs such as commercial driving, automotive technology and phlebotomy require in-person instruction for proper training and to meet licensing or credentialing requirements, he said.
In-person classes will be restricted in size to meet the social distancing requirements that could still be in effect after current public health orders expire July 30. Some programs will have a portion of their students in classes on campus some days. The next portion of students will be on campus other days, while the first group does online instruction.
Powell described ENMU-R as “financially sound,” and said it was able to adjust to the recent 4% budget cuts required by the special session of the New Mexico Legislature by doing such things as restricting traveling and freezing hirings. ENMU-R still has positive operating budgets and reserves, he said.
The question is whether the Legislature will decide when it meets in January or February that a mid-term correction is needed, requiring additional budget cuts for higher education.
Powell said ENMU-R is being conservative in its spending and planning in case that eventuality occurs.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.