UT-Austin moving all classes online, requiring students to leave residence halls

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.

All UT classes will be moved online starting March 30, President Gregory Fenves said in a letter Tuesday.

The announcement came after UT System Chancellor James Milliken sent a letter to all UT institution presidents instructing them to move courses online, limit campus residence and dining hall use, and postpone spring commencement ceremonies. 

“This decision today will create new challenges for many of our students, specifically regarding the completion of courses and credit,” Fenves said in the letter. “Our goal is for all students to complete the courses they are registered for during the spring 2020 semester. I am directing faculty members, deans and university leaders to work to accommodate student needs throughout these difficult times.”

Fenves said a few exceptions to online instruction include those with “clinical placements leading to professional licensure,” but most courses, including graduate courses, will be held online through Zoom, Canvas or other methods. UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said all undergraduate classes, including labs and performance-based courses, will be moved online.

Fenves said he encourages students without internet or computer access should contact Student Emergency Services.

UT-Austin campus gatherings of 10 or more people through May 1 are canceled, postponed or moved online, Fenves said in the letter. Fenves said the University will make a decision about UT’s graduation commencement closer to May, but graduating seniors will receive their diploma on schedule. Bird said the University will ultimately comply with the guidelines set by the system.

UT will close residence halls, and students are required to move out of their dorms, though emergency housing will be provided on a case-by-case basis for students who have “compelling reasons to remain on campus,” Fenves said. Recreational Sports and University Unions facilities will also be closed.

“We are asking students not to return to campus for course instruction after March 30 if they have living arrangements elsewhere,” Fenves said in the letter.

Students already on campus can begin moving out immediately, and students currently off campus must sign up for a check-out date beginning March 23. Fenves said in the letter that housing and dining contracts will have prorated refunds from the University.

Milliken said in his letter that a systemwide emergency fund is being created for the schools to pay for student needs.

Some staff and researchers may remain on campus while following social distancing policies, Fenves said in the letter, and the continuation of lab work will be left up to the lab directors. 

“Life on our campus, in our city and across the world has changed for the coming months,” Fenves said in the letter. “I have seen firsthand how extraordinary the UT community is, and I am proud of the dedication, compassion and leadership you have shown throughout these uncertain weeks.”