Adjunct Faculty Leads Team to Develop Successful Hybrid Geology Field Camp During Initial COVID-19 Outbreak

Enhanced Safety Measures Resulted in Successful Field Camp in Summer 2020

Jon Rotzien, adjunct professor at the University of Houston Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, co-developed a hybrid field geology camp in response to high student demand during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. The field camp took place in two parts: a 14-day online phase and a 15-day in-person phase in the Black Hills of South Dakota during June and July 2020.

Field Camp Attendees

One of the few camps of its kind to run globally in 2020 during the initial outbreak, the hybrid method of field geoscience instruction was featured on the cover of the March/April 2021 issue of GSA Today, published by the Geological Society of America.

Rotzien was the lead author of the article, Field-Based Geoscience Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Planning, Execution, Outcomes, and Forecasts. The authors recommends a four-stage planning process involving key stakeholders to address logistics, transportation, accommodation, and dining services that are complicated due to the enhanced safety measures necessary to lead a safe hybrid field course. The method detailed in Rotzien et al. (2021) has been distributed across major news outlets in North America and globally and can be used by universities and businesses that intend to engage in face-to-face activities during this time of uncertainty.

Method of Daily Travel to Field Sites

Each cohort of 10 students and two faculty was assigned two 12-passenger vans for transportation to the field, to evenly divide the cohort. Seating in the vehicles was 2 –1 – 1 – 2 front to back, and all passengers were required to wear face coverings at all times in the vehicle. Prior to entering the vehicle, temperature checks were recorded. Students were required to sit in the same seat each day, and vans were loaded from back to front and unloaded from front to back. Upon reaching the field and home destinations, disinfectant spray was used on all handled interior and exterior vehicle surfaces. Furthermore, windows were kept open and air conditioning could be set to high, but not to max because that would recirculate air.

Read More in GSA Today