UT Austin moving classes online for remainder of spring, summer semesters

Moody Center Rendering ( University of Texas at Austin )

The University of Texas at Austin is moving classes online for the remainder of the spring semester and for the duration of summer sessions, due to concerns over the coronavirus.

An updated announcement from the University has confirmed that the school will be moving all summer session classes online.

According to the school, since returning from an extended spring break, thousands of UT students have participated in more than 9,000 classes, logging a total of over 13 million minutes online.

"I know we had all hoped to return to campus and in-person classes at the beginning of summer session. But given the uncertainty of the spread of COVID-19 as shown in epidemiological models, that won’t be possible to do safely. For those students who plan to participate in summer classes, courses will be held online. The summer course schedule will be published April 8, and registration for summer and fall classes will open April 27 and close May 8. These dates are a week later than previously scheduled to allow students time to meet with their advisors remotely," UT President Gregory Fenves said in a statement. 

Earlier in the month, Fenves asked UT students to not return to campus after March 30 unless there is a specific need and if they have living arrangements elsewhere.

Starting on March 30, all spring semester classes, both undergraduate and graduate, will be moved online through Zoom, Canvas, and other methods. The letter says students will have the opportunity to complete the courses for which they are currently registered, especially those expecting to graduate this semester.

In specific cases, such as clinical placements leading to professional licensure, UT Austin will review requests and faculty members will work directly with those students to make arrangements that adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Students who do not have off-campus access to computers or Wi-Fi are instructed to reach out to Student Emergency Services for support.

UT Austin is requiring students to move home from their residence halls, but Fenves says emergency housing will be available on a case-by-case basis to students who have compelling reasons to remain on campus, or who do not have other living arrangements. The university will provide details on how to apply for emergency campus housing in the upcoming days. 

Residents who are currently on campus can begin to move out immediately. Students not currently on campus will need to sign up for a time to move out via the University Housing and Dining website beginning March 23. The university will also offer pro-rated refunds on housing and dining contracts and coordinate those decisions with financial aid packages.

Recreational Sports and University Unions facilities are closed until further notice.

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Staff members working this week to support the university’s core priorities, such as support for the transition to online learning, maintenance of critical mission services on campus and support for students on campus, living in residence halls and relying on university services, should continue to do so, and supervisors will continually assess staffing needs, Fenves said.

All on-campus programs, gatherings and events with more than 10 people through May 1 will be canceled, postponed or moved online. These include office or faculty meetings, student programs and religious or cultural celebrations in addition to all athletics events and public performances. 

There is currently no decision to postpone or cancel May commencement, and Fenves says they will assess the public health situation to determine whether any public ceremonies are appropriate. 

READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:

Dear UT Community,

I am writing to inform you of the latest actions The University of Texas at Austin is taking in response to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Starting on March 30, the university will be moving all spring semester classes online. We are asking students not to return to campus this semester unless there is a specific need. This decision has been made to protect the health and safety of all members of the UT community and reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the university and beyond. 

I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all staff and faculty members who are sacrificing greatly for the health, well-being and safety of our university community — especially health care workers, police officers, residence hall and janitorial staff members, IT staff members and many more. I am grateful for your service and selflessness. 

This decision today will create new challenges for many of our students, specifically regarding the completion of courses and credit (especially for students intending to graduate this year), housing, the retrieval of personal items from university residence halls and access to technology away from campus. Our goal is for all students to complete the courses they are registered for during the spring 2020 semester. I am directing faculty members, deans and university leaders to work to accommodate student needs throughout these difficult times.

Below, you will find guidance and information on policies and resources for students, faculty members and staff members. 

Instruction 

When classes resume on March 30, undergraduate and graduate instruction will transition to remote delivery through Zoom, Canvas and other methods. Students will have the opportunity to complete the courses for which they are currently registered, especially those who are expecting to graduate this semester. Graduate courses will also be held online.  

There are exceptions to this. In these specific and unusual cases, such as clinical placements leading to professional licensure, we will review requests and faculty members will work directly with those students to make arrangements that adhere to social distancing guidelines.

If you are a student who does not have off-campus access to a computer and/or Wi-Fi, please reach out to Student Emergency Services for support.

We are asking students not to return to campus for course instruction after March 30 if they have living arrangements elsewhere. 

Residence Halls 

The university is requiring students to move home from their residence halls, though emergency housing will be available on a case-by-case basis to students who have compelling reasons to remain on campus, or who do not have other living arrangements. We will provide details for how to apply for emergency campus housing in the upcoming days. 

Residents who are currently on campus can begin to move out immediately. 

Students who are not currently on campus will need to sign up for a time to move out via the University Housing and Dining website starting on Monday, March 23. The university will also offer pro-rated refunds on housing and dining contracts and coordinate those decisions with financial aid packages.

Recreational Sports and University Unions facilities are closed until further notice.

Campus Operations 

Staff members who are working this week to support the university’s core priorities should continue to do so, and supervisors will continually assess the staffing needs as we prepare for the rest of the semester. As a reminder, these priorities are:

  • Providing support to UT’s education and research missions in preparation for the transition to online learning;
  • Maintaining critical mission services on campus such as public safety, utilities, core administrative functions, IT support for online learning, business operations and vital research functions; and
  • Supporting students who are on campus, living in residence halls and relying on university services.
  • As I wrote earlier this week, I am pursuing all options to preserve your compensation regardless of your work status.

Research 

Some research — including efforts specifically related to COVID-19 — will continue, with social distancing procedures put into place in laboratories. All lab directors will make localized decisions about whether to maintain operations and are preparing shutdown procedures in case that is needed. Undergraduates will no longer participate in research in person. Graduate students may opt out of lab work at their discretion.

Meetings and Events 

All on-campus programs, gatherings and events with more than 10 people through May 1 will be canceled, postponed or moved online. These include office or faculty meetings, student programs and religious or cultural celebrations in addition to all athletics events and public performances. 

As we get closer to May commencement, we will assess the public health situation to determine whether any public ceremonies are appropriate. 

In Closing

Life on our campus, in our city and across the world has changed for the coming months. I have seen firsthand how extraordinary the UT community is, and I am proud of the dedication, compassion and leadership you have shown throughout these uncertain weeks.

The university will keep you updated. Please continue to check our website to stay informed. Thank you for all that you do for UT. Please focus on your health and well-being during this challenging time. 

Sincerely,

Gregory L. Fenves
President

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