Safely Returning to Campus

Dear students,

I am sending this letter to all undergraduates as part of an effort to keep the UT community safe as you return to Austin, and inform you that all undergraduate hybrid courses (except in pharmacy and nursing) will be held online through the end of January. Students living in UT residence halls will receive a separate letter, as well.

Although students may be at lower risk for serious outcomes from COVID-19, you can still carry and spread the disease to other vulnerable individuals in your family and the community. The rollout of vaccines will eventually slow the spread, but we need your help to minimize exposure on and off campus, particularly now. Our hospitals and health care workers are stretched thin, and ICU availability is extremely limited.

Spread out your return.

We want to minimize the number of people returning to the campus community at any one time. This will help prevent an immediate influx of cases, reduce spread and allow testing and contact tracing to keep up in the returning population. This applies to all students who plan to travel to the Austin area. Students returning to the residence halls are receiving specific information about their return.

To give you a broader choice of return dates, all undergraduate hybrid courses (except in pharmacy and nursing) will be held online though the end of January. If you are enrolled in an entirely in-person class, check with your instructor to determine how classes will be held during January.

If you plan to travel to Austin, consider waiting to see how things develop before making your plans to return.

Get tested before returning.

We recommend getting tested three to five days before traveling back to Austin. This will allow you to isolate at home if you test positive. We realize this may not be possible for everyone. All students can get free tests on campus through the Proactive Community Test (PCT) as soon as you return.

Get tested on campus.

Get your free PCT test if you are here now or once you arrive in Austin. Getting tested is about protecting yourself, your friends and family and other vulnerable individuals. Your results are private, and you will not be penalized in any way should you test positive. Because of limited ICU availability, getting tested can truly help save someone’s life. Using UT’s testing allows us to reach out quickly to contacts of infected individuals to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Limit family drop-off time.

We recommend that family and visitors minimize their time in Austin during drop-off. Given the high prevalence of COVID-19, we are encouraging visitors to limit their time in Austin, and especially to limit their contact with individuals outside of the family.

Maintain your vigilance.

Now, more than ever, we need to be careful. Please wear a mask, avoid gatherings, especially indoors, and try to limit your contacts.

Listen to your body.

If you have even slight symptoms, please isolate from others and get tested right away. Don’t assume it is just allergies. Some symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies may feel the same. Be sure you are tracking your symptoms and get tested if you exhibit symptoms. Many cases arise when people who have mild symptoms remain in contact with others.

You, our student community, deserve a great deal of credit for successfully suppressing spread of the virus during the fall semester. With your help, we can do so again in 2021.

The university will continue to monitor the situation in Austin and around the state. It may be necessary to modify our plans as conditions change. We will keep you updated of our status.

Best of luck on a successful spring semester.


Dan Jaffe


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