UT-Austin extends spring break for one week due to coronavirus concerns

Neha Madhira

The University will extend spring break for students by one week in response to COVID-19 concerns, according to a Wednesday press release.

In the release, UT President Gregory Fenves said on-campus classes will resume on March 30. The University will remain open during the extra week, Fenves said.

“UT is committed to the well-being of our community members and slowing the spread of the coronavirus while also supporting our students’ educational goals and the needs of staff and faculty members and students during these challenging times,” Fenves said.

The additional week is to prepare UT faculty and staff members to increase “social distancing” on campus, Fenves said. Students, faculty and staff will receive more details over the next few days, according to the press release.

Fenves said social distancing will help the University shift many lectures to online instruction, reconfigure classroom space and examine how to support employees or students who have special health needs. 

“Students who wish to return to campus as previously scheduled on March 23 will still be able to do so — residence halls, dining halls, health and counseling services and other facilities will be open,” Fenves said. “Other university operations will also continue during the next two weeks and beyond, with the potential for flexible work arrangements that align with our focus on social distancing.”

Last Friday, Mayor Steve Adler declared a state of disaster and canceled South by Southwest due to COVID-19 concerns. There are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Travis County. 

“As recommended by public health officials, social distancing provides guidelines through which individuals avoid group settings and mass gatherings, maintain a safe distance from others and follow good personal hygiene practices whenever possible,” Fenves said.

Last Tuesday, the University suspended all undergraduate travel to countries with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Warning Level of 1, 2 or 3 and added them to UT’s Restricted Regions list. This travel suspension will extend to summer programs and Maymesters.

“I know this is not the spring break we had expected,” Fenves said. “I am aware that many of you have had to change your plans, and I appreciate the resiliency you have shown throughout these difficult weeks. We must all come together as a community to make the semester as productive as possible.”