March 15, 2020
Dear UT Community,
With President Trump declaring a national emergency and Governor Abbott declaring a state of disaster in Texas, the severity of the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) could not be clearer. At The University of Texas at Austin, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our students and supporting them in their educational goals and path toward graduation, while also seeking to reduce the public spread of COVID-19.
The plan, as of now, is to resume classes on March 30 — two weeks from now. However, this plan may change as public health circumstances evolve. Our faculty members are planning to teach as many classes as possible online. Social distancing procedures will be introduced for other classes and in residence halls, dining halls, libraries, workspaces and student spaces.
During the next two weeks, all of our efforts will be dedicated to:
Providing continued 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.
These are the three main priorities for the university moving forward during the next few weeks.
Supervisors in every college, school, unit and department will identify the faculty and staff members needed to work on campus to support these priorities. Supervisors will also have the discretion to decide who can telework and whether any employees should suspend their work functions, and to what extent, during this uncertain time. Please be on the lookout for a message from your supervisor to find out what your schedule will be.
In the coming days, I will review all the options available to me to preserve your compensation regardless of your work status.
Researchers should await guidance from their lab directors, who are developing protocols for their individual labs. Applied Research Laboratories and the Texas Advanced Computing Center will be following social distancing requirements and are expected to be as operational as possible given their importance to our priorities. The Vice President for Research office will issue general guidance for labs this evening. Colleges, schools, departments and ORUs will issue specific guidance for research operations in their units.
I understand there are thousands of staff and faculty members working to support campus operations and prepare for the main priorities, even as you deal with health concerns, child care challenges due to school closures, self-isolation and other difficult circumstances at home. We will do everything we can to support all employees during this very challenging period.
It is likely we will see more positive cases of COVID-19 within the UT community in the near future. All community members should continue to diligently monitor their personal health and hygiene and take preventive measures.
The university will keep you updated as we work to make adjustments to our policies and operations. And please continue to check our website to stay informed.
Gregory L. Fenves