How are UT System academic institutions planning for fall 2020?

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Joshua Guerra

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout to reflect the most recent fall plans for each institution.

All eight UT System academic institutions will close most in-person activities and go online after Thanksgiving break, Chancellor James Milliken said at the UT System board meeting Monday. 

“Each institution has plans for fully online, in-person and hybrid course experiences, and … each will be prepared to step back or close in-person activities, if conditions require it,” Milliken said. 

The System Board of Regents approved all institutions’ fall plans at the board meeting. Institutions have made their plans publicly available or will do so in the next few days, according to a UT System press release published Monday. 

Steve Leslie, executive vice chancellor of academic affairs for the UT System, said the System is having weekly calls with the academic institutions’ presidents and provosts to discuss their fall semester plans. 

“It’s not the UT System deciding (the plans), it's talking to the presidents and determining what is best for the campuses,” Leslie said.

All plans will be consistent with state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding COVID-19, Milliken said.

This article will be updated periodically with any new, relevant information from the seven academic institutions excluding UT-Austin. 

The Daily Texan is covering in-depth how UT-Austin is planning for the fall 2020 semester. Read the latest update here.

UT-Arlington

UT-Arlington will offer courses in-person, online asynchronous, which are online classes without live lectures, online synchronous, or as a hybrid, according to a report released June 21.

“In Fall 2020, it is expected that courses will expand to fit within seven different defined modalities,” the report said. “This expanded scope demands robust training concepts to ensure faculty are equipped to maintain high-quality instruction and the student experience regardless of modality.”

Classrooms will only allow for 25% to 34% occupancy, according to an announcement sent out June 26.

UT-Arlington students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break and will finish the semester online, University spokesperson Joe Carpenter said.

UT-Arlington announced June 8 that face coverings must be worn in campus buildings and elsewhere on campus where social distancing is hard to maintain, with a few exceptions. The protocol is in effect until further notice.

UT-Dallas

Students will have the option of taking all of their classes online in fall as UT-Dallas expands course offerings, according to an announcement sent to students June 11. 

UT-Dallas reconfigured classroom settings to ensure a difference of 6 feet or more is maintained for in-person classes, according to the University’s website.  

Face coverings will be required in certain areas of campus, including hallways, common spaces, elevators and classrooms, according to the website. 

All campus housing will operate at full capacity with single-occupancy bedrooms according to the website. Ten one-bedroom apartments are set aside for on-campus isolation if a student is symptomatic. 

UT-El Paso

UT-El Paso expects to severely limit class sizes and to incorporate more online and hybrid course delivery options, said Steve Crites, dean of the graduate school. However, the University is still in the process of finalizing the specifics of the plan, Crites said.

“We expect to release a significant portion of the updated fall course schedule in early July,” UT-El Paso president Heather Wilson said in an announcement June 12. 

Crites said the University plans to limit housing to ensure social distancing. 

Face coverings will be required in public and shared areas of campus until further notice, according to an announcement sent out May 27. 

UT-Permian Basin

UT-Permian Basin will offer face-to-face, online and hybrid classes in the fall, and all classes after Thanksgiving break will be virtual, according to a June 22 letter from the president.

“Remote provisions will be made for students to complete face-to-face courses if during the semester they find they are unable to come to campus,” the letter said. “Faculty members also have the option to offer face-to-face courses online if needed.”

For on-campus housing, there will be only one resident per bedroom and no more than two residents per bathroom, according to the letter. Roommates will be assigned based on athletic participation or academic discipline. 

Common spaces, including study rooms and TV areas, will have reduced capacity, according to the letter. Self-isolation spaces will be available for students who are ill, the letter said. 

All dining locations will be open with extended hours. There will be no self-serve food stations and take-out will be available, according to the letter. 

Departments may schedule partial staffing on alternating days, according to the letter. For example, staff in “Group A” will work Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while “Group B” works the remaining days. 

Staff members may work fully remotely if their work allows them to, according to the letter. 

UT-Rio Grande Valley

All courses with over 50 students will be delivered online at UT-Rio Grande Valley, according to Task Force guidelines released June 10. 

University spokesperson Patrick Gonzales said UTRGV will divide fall courses into four categories: traditional face-to-face; online asynchronous, meaning online classes without live lectures; online synchronous, meaning online classes with live lectures; and hybrid in-person and online courses. 

Gonzales said the University hopes to have a list of classes with their corresponding categories finalized in about two weeks. 

“The next step is to provide as many options for our students so they can develop the best fall schedule that fits their needs,” Gonzales said. 

Face coverings are required on campus inside all campus buildings, according to the guidelines. 

Students who choose to stay on-campus will reside in single-occupancy rooms, according to the guidelines. 

UT-San Antonio

For in-person classes, UT-San Antonio will consider reducing class size to allow for 6 feet separation between people by adding more sections, putting small classes in larger classrooms or creating hybrid classes, according to a report released Tuesday.

The University will ensure physical distancing in student housing by taking preventative measures, such as installing physical barriers in shared bathroom spaces, according to the report. 

Residents will be grouped into family units, consisting of two or more students who share a bathroom or common living area. 

Face coverings will be required in all public and common spaces, according to the report. 

The University has a plan in place if an area is exposed to a person with a potential or confirmed case of COVID-19, according to the report. This includes temporarily closing facilities and disinfection protocols. 

The report states the University must reserve residential spaces for potential isolation and students quarantining.

UT-Tyler

UT-Tyler will return to face-to-face classes for the fall and University officials are finalizing plans and safety measures to do so, according to a June 23 letter from the president. 

The University will have a more robust cleaning schedule and will strongly encourage masks among the campus community, according to the letter.

Social distancing will be practiced in classrooms, dining areas and other meeting areas, according to the letter.