April 1, 2020
Dear UT Community,
We are now midway through our first week of online learning at UT, and I am grateful for the amazing effort you have put in to make this transition. Although there’s no place like the Forty Acres, during the past three days, UT students, faculty members and staff members have brought our campus online. The insightful lectures and discussions that define the UT experience have returned. And students have reconnected with their professors and friends in ways they hadn’t expected when the semester began.
During the first two days, tens of thousands of students participated in classes, logging a total of more than 13 million minutes online. During those millions of minutes, there was, at first, tentativeness, then exploration, followed by discovery and the realization that learning can occur in new ways. Adaptability is a key part of education this semester, and students can visit our Keep Learning website for remote learning tips and tech support to help them thrive throughout the months ahead.
Upholding Our Values
Although UT classes are now online, our values and commitment to one another are the same as ever.
Unfortunately, there has been some reprehensible behavior, including racist actions, that has taken place in our new campus setting. There will be no tolerance for harassment and bigotry in our classrooms — online or otherwise. And any member of the UT community who disrupts or interferes with university classes or meetings will face discipline. The university is also working to improve security across all of our digital platforms to make sure they are used exclusively by members of the UT community.
Summer Classes 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.
As the virus continues to affect communities across the country, there is much you can do to monitor your health and protect others during this time. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important for you to be screened for testing. Students can call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877. Others can call UT Health Austin at 833-882-2737; call your physician, who can register you to be tested with Austin Public Health; call CommUnityCare at 512-978-8775; or access telehealth services (via Austin Public Health). If you are not in the Austin area, we encourage you to reach out to your personal physician and local health care providers for support.
UT Austin COVID-19 resources include an easy-to-understand guide in English/Spanish explaining the difference between social distancing, monitoring, quarantine and isolation, including how long each will last.
Mental Health and Student Emergency Services
For remote mental health services, students can reach out to the Counseling and Mental Health Center, and staff and faculty members can get support through the Employee Assistance Program. Additionally, if you are a student who needs assistance with food or housing, or you don’t have access to a personal computer or internet connection, please complete the Student Emergency Services form and the university will work to help you.
I want to conclude by reminding all students and UT community members that it is our responsibility to follow local, state and national public health orders, and use good judgment during this crisis. Our conduct and the decisions we make have direct ramifications on our own health and the health of everyone in our city and beyond. We must do everything we can to limit the spread of this virus — the consequences of reckless actions at this time could not be clearer.
I am proud of everyone who has pulled together and adapted to remote learning with energy, enthusiasm and shared purpose. I thank you and wish you all the best in the days ahead.
Gregory L. Fenves