(WACO, Texas) – As the COVID-19 pandemic rampaged across the world, Texas State Technical College responded. And that plan has received recognition from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with a 2021 Star Award, which recognized higher education institutions in Texas for their response efforts to the pandemic.
TSTC activated its statewide Emergency Operations Team in March 2020 as four guiding principles were set to deal with COVID-19: protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff members; protect the health and safety of communities where the college has campuses; place graduates into great-paying jobs in Texas; and continue to maintain fiscal responsibility and stability.
TSTC’s emergency operations plan and pandemic plan were frequently updated as situations arose.
Students, faculty and staff adjusted to limiting time on campus, moving technical programs to all-online and hybrid formats, and starting rigorous cleaning and sanitizing processes. Activities with groups of people together were halted. Campuses did not allow outside visitors for several months.
TSTC set up an online process for students, faculty and staff to self-report exposures. From these reports, contact tracing began.
TSTC’s campuses worked with several health care providers, school districts, city and county governments, and other agencies to maintain clear communication throughout the pandemic. Some campuses assisted with vaccinations.
TSTC’s Advocacy and Resource Center staff oversaw the distribution of food, hygiene products and baby items to students in need through curbside pickup and delivery options. TSTC’s Culture of Caring program used CARES Act funding to financially assist more than 3,200 TSTC students.
TSTC began the RI$E program in summer 2020, providing people who were unemployed with a way to take specialized classes for one semester to be ready for entry-level jobs.
The 2021 Star Award recognized higher education institutions in Texas for their response efforts to COVID-19.