September 14, 2021
We have been hearing from so many of you about how great it is to be back on campus, and we agree – it has lifted our spirits to have so many students back on the Forty Acres. While the reduced density measures taken by your instructors have helped to minimize the risk of COVID-19 during this critical period, we also want to acknowledge the role you have played in protecting our community. You, our students, deserve a great deal of credit.
You can help us keep our semester heading in the right direction by continuing to use the effective tools that are available to us. Wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and routine testing are working. We encourage you to keep doing these things. It is tempting to relax our positive routines, but they are making a difference. Thank you for doing your part!
Increased COVID-19 Testing
We are in the process of expanding our testing capabilities for asymptomatic individuals to include additional free walk-in pop-up clinics across and near campus for students, faculty and staff. Details about the test sites are being developed and will be shared with the community when available. Students who have COVID-19 symptoms can schedule an appointment for a symptomatic test through University Health Services.
Vaccinated students are strongly encouraged to get tested weekly, and unvaccinated students or those who face greater risks are strongly encouraged to get tested twice per week. Testing through the university will expedite the contact tracing process. If you receive a positive test result from a testing site outside of the university, you should immediately report results to University Health Services. Your direct reporting will help accelerate classroom notifications and contact tracing to further protect our community.
Return to In-Person Classes
While many classes are already meeting in person, some classes began the semester at reduced density or were temporarily moved online. Beginning next week, students will see a transition back to normal density with more in-person instruction. We are asking students and faculty members to remain flexible, as there may be instances where modality changes take longer, particularly if contact tracing is ongoing. Also, a small number of classes may remain online if an instructor has been approved for a semester-long move to that teaching modality. Including these approved changes and classes that were always planned to be online, approximately 5% of our course sections are fully online this fall.
Although the situation is beginning to improve in the Austin area, COVID-19 remains a serious concern. Based on our health experts’ analysis of the testing and contact tracing data, we believe that the risk of spread on campus is low, but we will continue to monitor conditions closely. Vaccination remains our best tool for protection against COVID-19, and vaccines continue to be widely available.
Thank you for everything you are doing to protect our community. Your safety and success remain the university’s top priorities.
Sharon L. Wood
Executive Vice President and Provost
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students