ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Students are finally back on the University of New Mexico campus after more than a year of remote learning. It’s been a long time coming, with students flooding the UNM campus on Monday, excited to be back.
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UNM students told KRQE in-person learning is the best way to experience college even if it means wearing a mask in class. “It’s exciting, I feel like year one was kind of a tutorial almost, but now we’re on campus and it feels a lot more real. I feel like learning will be a lot more fluid this year,” said UNM student Lila Nezar.
“I feel like I’m getting a better college experience if I’m being honest with you,” said Jordan Spillman, UNM student. “Just seeing people, talking to people, getting to know people in person.”
UNM enrollment is down about 10% from pre-pandemic levels. But, the school expects more students to enroll in the coming weeks. UNM was the first university in the state to require the vaccine. Officials said as of earlier this month, at least 60% of students were fully vaccinated, along with about 85% of faculty and staff.
The vaccine deadline is the end of September. The school has set up a portal for everyone to submit their proof of vaccination or a request for an exemption. As for what will happen to students and staffers who don’t make the deadline or refuse to get vaccinated, the university said they’re still developing a plan. That plan could include restricting access to facilities and events and progress toward more serious consequences.
“We really want to work with our community on doing what’s best for them,” said Cinnamon Blair, the Chief Marketing Communications Officer with UNM. “That’s really what our values and mission support.”
UNM has a vaccine clinic in the student union building. It’s open every weekday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The clinic should run until the end of September. It’s free to anyone in the community.
UNM also plans on extending their hundred-dollar “Vax the Pack” incentive until September 30. Officials said they’ve given away almost a million dollars to students since they started it in early July.