Masks, socially-distanced classrooms part of UT's fall re-opening plans

Talk 1370 Newsroom
June 29, 2020 - 3:59 pm

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Face coverings, socially-distanced classrooms, and flexibility for students, faculty, and staff are all part of a rigorous safety plan for the University of Texas this fall.

Campus officials announced the plan, dubbed "Protect Texas Together", on Monday.

"Our goal with this plan — as it has been from the beginning — is to create an environment that is as safe as possible for all community members, while reigniting the learning, teaching and research that make our university the outstanding place that it is," interim President Jay Hartzell wrote in a letter to campus. "Today’s plan provides a framework for the fall that is designed to accommodate the dynamic environment we’re facing and enable us to adapt to changes in the prevalence of COVID-19 in Austin and throughout Texas. And I know that things are changing every day."

Faculty, staff and students in six working groups have worked since April to develop the detailed plan, officials said.

UT previously announced its fall semester will begin as scheduled on August 26.

Students will have the choice of experiencing the full fall semester online if they wish. Only 40% of the seats in a classroom will be occupied, with students able to choose from online, in-person, or hybrid classes. Officials say all courses will have the same tuition rates, regardless of which method is chosen.

As previously announced, cloth masks will be mandatory inside university buildings except for those who are alone in private offices, while eating in a campus dining facility, or for students in their own residence hall rooms. They'll also be strongly encouraged while outside on campus. Students, faculty, and staff will also undergo daily symptom screenings.

UT says its own testing labs will be able to process up to 1,500 tests per day in the fall.

A new move-in process will be adopted for residence halls, with move-in scheduled for August 20. Most rooms will be slated as double occupancy, with a limited number of single occupancy rooms.

Faculty members will be able to hold office hours either on campus or remotely. Those with medical conditions or at high risk for COVID-19 can request an accommodation using the Americans with Disabilities Act process to teach remotely or use alternative options. Flexibility will also be offered to those with a household member at high risk for COVID-19.

Officials say policies and procedures for athletics are still being worked out with state, local, and Big 12 Conference officials. More clarity on what athletics events could look like is expected in early August.

Full details on the campus plan is available online at https://protect.utexas.edu.

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