UT-Austin leadership discusses fall classes, football season options

Nataleah Small

UT President Gregory Fenves announced options the University is exploring to reopen campus in the fall semester at a media briefing Friday.

While a specific contingency plan will be announced by the end of June, Fenves said the University is currently working on finalizing class schedules, campus housing options and the fall football schedule with the health of the campus community in mind. 

Arthur Markman, chair of the academics working group, said the University is considering spreading out fall semester classes throughout the day. Markman said typically most people are on campus between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. To manage campus density, Markman said the University is considering lengthening the school day. 

Markman said the University is also identifying which classes need to meet in person because some skills can only be taught in a hands-on environment. Large lectures will be held online, but sections will be created where small groups of students can engage with professors and teaching assistants, he said. 

Small classes will also have an online component so students can still engage in the classroom even if they may be self-isolating or feeling unwell. 

When campus opens in the fall, housing will be a critical component, said Soncia Reagins-Lilly, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. The University is still considering the factors regarding on-campus housing and will share a more detailed plan moving forward. 

“It’s going to be fun to see the ways we as a campus rally,” interim president Jay Hartzell said.

UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said because the price of summer tuition has been reduced, the University has seen a strong demand for summer classes. 

For the summer, undergraduate students who are Texas residents have a 50% tuition reduction, nonresidents have a 25% tuition reduction. Graduate students are set to pay the typical reduced rate of 85% of the fall and spring tuition.

The University is collaborating with Big 12 schools to determine what the fall football season will look like. For the games to take place, the University will need other teams to play. 

The University is also looking to increase COVID-19 testing capacity on campus, Fenves said. UT is working with faculty and research labs on campus to increase the capacity for PCR testing in the case of a viral resurgence. 

“We’re pretty certain the virus will still be present in the fall,” Fenves said.