March 24, 2020
Dear UT Community,
Today, the City of Austin and Travis County announced “Stay Home – Work Safe” orders to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in our community. These orders will have a significant impact on life in our city during the weeks ahead and directly affect the thousands of employees who keep the university moving forward. This is an important step in stemming the spread of COVID-19.
As of today, all individuals in Austin and Travis County must remain at home, with exceptions for select work — including institutions of higher education — and activities, until April 13. These include grocery shopping, visiting health care professionals, obtaining medical supplies and medication, exercising outdoors and other activities.
You can read the city’s complete “Stay Home – Work Safe” order here.
To our students, if you are not currently in Austin, I encourage you to stay where you are and not return, since no UT classes will be meeting face-to-face. The university has restricted access to most buildings, and it is safer not to travel at this time unless absolutely necessary.
Students who have been approved for temporary emergency housing will be moved to San Jacinto Residence Hall during the weeks ahead. On-campus markets and food halls will close, and housing staff members will deliver food to individual student dorm rooms.
The Travis County and city declarations recognize that UT, as a university and a state agency, has essential functions for delivery of online education, critical research and essential university operations. For those who have been working on campus during the past two weeks, many of your functions will continue even with these new orders in place. Please check in with your supervisors for specific instructions.
All work taking place on campus must meet social distancing requirements. However, there are exceptions. There are some positions, including law enforcement and certain utilities work, where proper social distancing is not always possible, and we are developing mitigating guidance for how to conduct this work in the safest manner possible. Supervisors will provide this information directly to affected employees.
In recent days, university leadership has been working with city and county officials to allow UT community members to return to campus to retrieve possessions that have been left behind. Many of you have already made arrangements to return to campus for this purpose. For others, we will work with you to let you know when you can return.
This is a challenging moment for our university community and for people across the nation. I appreciate the resilience you have shown and thank you for being adaptable and understanding as we navigate this public health crisis together.
Gregory L. Fenves