Q&A with UT spokesperson on spring break, Friday closure

Hannah Williford

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.

UT spokesperson J.B. Bird provided clarification on the Friday campus closure and how campus will operate over the extended spring break this morning in an email. 

The University announced Friday morning it would be closing operations and canceling classes for Friday, March 13. The announcement said only essential personnel would work, and more information would be available later.   

The Daily Texan: Who qualifies as essential personnel?

J.B. Bird: Examples include the facilities, housing and dining staff who maintain scaled back operations, such as the dining facilities that remain open today; communications staff who get information out to the campus; and safety personnel, including campus police. There are also areas within the university where staff are essential due to pressing business needs. For example, Texas Global staff are very busy right now helping students abroad make the transition back to the U.S., which means this office has a higher percentage of essential personnel right now than some other offices might.

Bird said supervisors determine essential personnel at the unit and department level and communicate this to staff.

DT: Will residence halls stay open during the two-week break?

Bird: The residence halls are open today and will remain through the extended spring break as they normally do, for resident students who remain on campus.

Bird said there will be some change in dining hours, which usually occurs over spring break, and the current plan is to have dining options available throughout the break.

DT: Will University Health Services remain open today?

Bird: Yes, doors are open and phones (are) being answered. UHS is partially scaled back for the period of the break but open. As always, they remind students to call ahead if sick.

DT: Does the University still plan to stay open during the extended week?

Bird: As conditions evolve, we encourage all members of the community to monitor ongoing communications from the university and check our website for updates.