Coronavirus comeback

UT Austin to resume on-campus classes during fall semester

UT Austin to resume on-campus classes during fall semester

Teacher and students in a classroom
UT will resume classes on campus in August, but require to students to stay home after Thanksgiving. Courtesy photo

The fall semester at the University of Texas at Austin — complete with on-campus classes — will start as scheduled August 26 but will end around Thanksgiving, the university announced May 20.

In a letter to the UT community, President Greg Fenves and his incoming interim successor, Jay Hartzell, said students won’t return to the Austin campus after their Thanksgiving break. After the holiday, they’ll complete their coursework and take final exams remotely.

“With COVID-19 still expected to be active this fall, we hope to avoid the possibility of students becoming infected during the Thanksgiving break and then spreading the virus to classmates upon their return after Thanksgiving,” Fenves and Hartzell wrote.

Unlike some schools around the country, UT has opted for on-campus classes this fall, instead of only online classes or a hybrid of both.

In an effort to curb coronavirus infections, UT shifted entirely to online instruction in March. Graduation activities for spring 2020 graduates are being held virtually May 23 rather than in person. In-person graduation ceremonies for the fall semester will be postponed.

Both spring and fall 2020 graduates will be invited to an on-campus ceremony that’ll be held sometime in 2021.

“We thank our 2020 graduates for their understanding and flexibility as we work to provide them with a celebration that is fitting of their extraordinary achievements,” Fenves and Hartzell said.

Other highlights of the letter:

  • Throughout the summer, all UT employees who are authorized to work on campus must cover their faces with a mask or cloth covering unless they’re in a private office or private space. There’s no word on whether students will be required to wear face masks or coverings when they return to campus this fall.
  • Testing for people exhibiting coronavirus symptoms and routine testing for students, staff, and faculty will be offered on campus this fall. UT expects more than 500 tests to be performed every day. Work is underway to set up a UT-specific testing lab.
  • The use of mobile apps is being explored to monitor pedestrian traffic on campus and in buildings.