May 19, 2021
Dear UT Community,
During the past 14 months, our actions together have helped stem the tide of COVID-19 cases on our campus and in the greater Austin community. Since December, we’ve been administering vaccines, delivering our 100,000th dose in April. Mounting data confirms the efficacy of these vaccines against a variety of COVID-19 strains — as one example, our campus Proactive Community Testing (PCT) program has not seen a positive case since May 7, and the last 1,191 tests have been negative. Furthermore, we now know that those who have been vaccinated are less likely to either have an asymptomatic infection or to transmit the virus to others.
With all this in mind, we’ve been cautiously optimistic for some time — and we’ve embarked upon a phased approach to returning our campus to near normal. This week, we are also issuing new masking guidance consistent with both the governor’s executive order and recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Effective immediately, our guidance will be as follows:
Masks are optional inside university buildings and outdoors.
For individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have weakened immune systems, masking and social distancing are optional but recommended.
As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, the university will continue to monitor conditions and act accordingly in line with the guidance of the CDC and state officials as those continue to evolve. We have also maintained our robust testing capabilities, including the UT PCT program, along with contact tracing efforts to facilitate interrupting further spread.
In the immediate term, this new guidance will be in effect for our upcoming commencement celebrations and athletics competitions. We expect that some of those in attendance will wear masks and others will not — and for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, we will continue to respect one another.
After commencement, we will be sharing more detailed plans with the community about the next phase of our return to campus, along with event and meeting guidance. We’ve been successfully increasing density in a number of areas across campus over the past couple of months, and we’re confident in our plans to continue to do so safely. As I’ve communicated before, our plans for the fall semester and our guidance for flexible work arrangements are underway, and we will share more information as soon as possible. Finally, we encourage our UT community to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 Vaccine Form is open for individuals who meet the state-defined eligibility criteria and want to receive the vaccine from the university. Please talk to your health care provider if you have questions about your eligibility.
Thank you to all the members of our Longhorn community who continue to help us Protect Texas Together.