Christopher M. Huckabee, chairman of the Texas Tech System Board of Regents.

The impact of COVID-19 on Texas Tech System operations is an issue the System Board of Regents addressed during a Friday meeting.

Tech efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and challenges that have been faced in the past few months were discussed.

Kendra Burris, deputy chancellor of the Tech System, said all universities within the System created teams to combat these issues. 

“Each university has put such an amazing response team together,” she said, “and we've been able to work through this and work through it together.”

As of the meeting Burris said there currently were 236 active cases across the entire Tech System. Efforts to lessen the spread of the virus include Tech providing free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff until Dec. 9 and general academic universities not continuing in-person instruction after Thanksgiving break.

“And then in January, we will start back up with our mixed modalities of classes: in-person, hybrid and online,” she said, “and we'll continue to speak weekly and work through all of our issues as we have them. Overall, our universities are doing well as can be expected in a pandemic.”

Certain cities that have Tech System institutions, such as Lubbock, Amarillo and El Paso, are facing a surge of COVID-19 cases, Burris said. 

Regardless, Lori Rice-Spearman, Tech Health Sciences Center president, said there have been positive results on Tech System campuses, as COVID-19 case numbers resulting from transmission among students have been low. One challenge is people attending events off-campus and transmitting the virus.

“We had a backlog of individuals coming into the emergency room yesterday and trying to get them admitted processed and into beds on floors that were appropriate to have COVID patients on that floor,” she said regarding the hospital capacity issue occurring in Lubbock due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. 

Regarding Tech community members who have been hospitalized, Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said there has been one student who was hospitalized due to COVID-19-related issues.

“That person also was diagnosed with two other related illnesses,” he said.

At Tech, Schovanec said there are less than 50 students in isolation. There are approximately 480 local hotel and motel rooms set aside for students to isolate. There are plans to decrease the number of rooms set aside to 300 in the spring semester.

In addition to efforts to combat COVID-19 within the Tech System and surrounding areas, updates on System construction projects were given.

Items approved in the Facilities Committee include:

  • A $20 million project budget for the Tech Theatre & Dance Complex Phase II renovation.

  • Authorization of expenditures to the Museum East Wing Addition project for DP Stage II services.

  • The total project budget of $15.5 million for the Renovation of the Southwest Professional Building located in Dallas.

Items within the Academic, Clinical and Student Affairs Committee also were approved during the meeting.

The Board also approved the name “F. Scott Dueser Chair for Excellence in Banking” for the Tech Excellence in Banking Program Director Endowment and the name “E.W. and J. David Williams Institute for Community Banking and Finance Program” for the Tech Institute of Community Banking and Finance Program.

Along with this item, the Board approved contracts to provide support for funding for an expansion of a Tech HSC BSN program into Mansfield.

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