Some classes to move online after spring break due to coronavirus, University officials say

Lauren Grobe

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

The University plans to implement social distancing precautions after spring break and will still hold some in-person classes, according to President Gregory Fenves in a press briefing. 

Fenves, Maurie McInnis, executive vice president and provost, and chief medical officer Terrance Hines held a press briefing Thursday morning regarding updates to the University’s COVID-19 policy. Fenves announced via email Wednesday that spring break would be extended by a week.

Some classes will transition online but not all courses will be required to do so, as others such as performing arts require in-person attendance, McInnis said.

“We can't have a blanket statement that says, ‘Every course has to go online,’ because we have too many things that cannot be delivered in that modality,” McInnis said. 

McInnis said large lecture hall classes will be required to go online because social distancing is not possible in that kind of room. She said these changes will be worked on over the next two weeks.

“If you're teaching a 500 person lecture in an auditorium with 500 seats, yes, it will be mandatory that that class go to an online format,” McInnis said. 

McInnis said students will not make up the extra week at the end of the semester.

“We are currently not planning to extend or change the calendar in any way,” McInnis said.

Students graduating should still finish their degree on time, though no decision has been made regarding the commencement ceremony, Fenves said.

“Our goal is for all students (for whom) this is their last semester at UT is to have students complete those degree requirements this semester," Fenves said.

Student staff will still be employed over the next two weeks and will be subject to social distancing policies, Fenves said.

“Our goal is to continue campus operations, including student (employment),” Fenves said.

McInnis said the University is working on informing faculty of instruction changes and that the majority of these decisions would be left up to the individual departments. This morning, McInnis sent an email to faculty regarding social distancing policies.

“Guidelines about social distancing and mitigation strategies for classes, meetings and gatherings will be shared with the campus soon,” McInnis said in the email.

The residence and dining halls will implement social distancing policies immediately, Fenves said. These specific policies will be posted to the University's coronavirus guidance page.

All study abroad programs have been suspended through the summer and students currently abroad must return home by March 30, Fenves said.