Oklahoma universities try to curb COVID-19 surge as students return to class

NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — While some universities, like Oklahoma State University, currently have virtual learning options as COVID-19 cases rise, OU is returning to the classroom Tuesday in person with the required masks.

Over the weekend, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 29,316 new cases of COVID-19. On Monday, the OSDH reported 12,841 new cases.

“It’s certainly concerning, but I think the university will obviously start to put in place more similar protocols,” said Thomas Welsh, a freshman at OU.

On Tuesday, OU students will return to class after winter break in person, with masks mandatory for the first two weeks of classes.

“I prefer in-person classes. I just think it’s a better learning experience to be able to communicate personally with the people in your class and your teachers. I definitely prefer this to virtual. You know, the masks, I guess, are going to be pretty helpful in keeping the cases down,” Welsh said.

Most of the students KFOR spoke to on Monday agreed.

“I’m happy to be back in class, but I don’t know how it will be in the future if it gets a little worse,” said Jenny Alvarado.

“I’m glad they decided to come back in person and I don’t really like doing an online class,” Wyatt Sharrock said.

“Last semester I thought I was going to get it, and I was nervous about it, but I never did. And I was surprised by that and I think with the simple fact to get vaccinated and everything, I think that will help me be more comfortable and everything,” Mitch Wagoner said.

Other universities, like OSU, have virtual options available for their courses.

No movement like that for OU, but they sent out a notice Monday alerting students that masks aren’t just needed in the classroom, but in all indoor settings.

“I just hope that as long as people actually wear their masks, because last semester people really didn’t wear their masks and unless the teacher actually enforced it, but some teachers didn’t do. So I feel like as long as they actually wear their mask, I feel like it will help a lot,” Daniela Anaya said.