A COVID-19 update with President McArthur
By Cam Alsbrook
Over the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Cameron has worked to provide policy changes and programs to benefit both students and faculty.
Weekly emails with campus- wide COVID-19 updates, for example, make current statistical information available.
Cameron President John McArthur said that while graduate level enrollment has risen, lower enrollment in the undergraduate level programs has a silver lining.
“The positives of lower enrollment,” McArthur said. “it is allowing us to offer the small class sizes that will help us to keep physical distancing, to provide safe, healthy learning environments.”
McArthur also said the university is committed to continue paying staff, so on- campus residents can continue to have the same services available.
As one of the university changes since Fall 2020 semester, the university began created the COVID-19 hotline service, a tie-in feature with the COVID-19 email updates.
Cameron is seeking to increase undergraduate enrollment for the next academic year, McArthur said.
“Our enrollment management team over at admissions — in particular — they are already reaching out to the high school counselors,” McArthur said. “We’re visiting with the teachers: I meet regularly with the Highschool
McArthur also said that communication between the university and local high schools is ongoing, with plans for the next academic year in the works.
The university is currently assessing how to enroll students who do not have an ACT or SAT score.
“This year, because of the pandemic, many of our students are not gonna have taken the ACT.” McArthur said, “So we want to make sure that they can get admitted to Cameron, that they will have the opportunity for scholarship programs whether they have an ACT score or not.”
During the 2020 Academic year, Cameron received 1.74 million dollars to distribute to students thanks to the Cares Act.
“The great thing about the program for me,” McArthur said. “is the money went to the students to choose how to use. Course, if they wanted to use it for tuition, we were happy to take it, but if they wanted to use it for car payment or rent or anything else, it was their choice.”
According to McArthur, the university has confirmation as of this month that, through the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), students can expect to see another round of aid money as part of another 1.74 million dollar grant.
“We’re still trying to figure out the eligibility, to make sure more students are eligible this time.” McArthur said.
“For example, through the Cares Act, online students weren’t eligible for
support. But on this round, it looks like they’re gonna be eligible.”
Students can expect to see an application form for aid money within the next few weeks.
When it comes to university- student communication, one of the new COVID-19 era methods is the “Healthy Together” application available on IOS and Android devices.
The application shows information to users that provides them the ability to evaluate COVID-19 symptoms.
Alongside that, the application acts as another method of contact to tell students if they are safe to come to campus.
Also, McArthur said the university has offered to serve as a COVID-19 vaccination site.
“We are more than willing to host them [the Health Department],” McArthur said.
“We have an agreement with the health department as part of our pandemic response plan that we could use the stadium parking lot for vaccinations, but we’re certainly willing to use our other spaces.”
According to McArthur, most of the students and faculty do not qualify for the current phase of the vaccination, but the university aims to help make the transition process for all parties easy and accessible.
McArthur said the political climate surrounding masks and vaccinations has not impacted policy decisions.
“We want public health and public safety to drive policy more than politicians.” McArthur said.
“So, we lean very heavily on the center for disease control’s guidelines, and then the Oklahoma State Department of Health. They are largely independent of political pressures, which I appreciate. We’re trying to do what’s right for our students and our employees, so instead of a political impact on our policy it’s gonna have more of a financial impact.”
The university president encourages students, faculty and staff to remain vigilant with the current policies the campus has face coverings, distancing and self-monitoring.
One goal for the university is to continue to adapt to the main three teaching formats available, McArthur said.
“Our student preferences have been strongly towards face-to face-instruction,” McArthur said. “I would say online is the second preference, and then Zoom is the third choice.”