UT-Austin asks students to self-quarantine for 2 weeks before returning to campus, will enforce mask requirements on campus

Anna Canizales

The University is asking students to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to campus in the fall, according to a message to the community from Interim President Jay Hartzell on Wednesday. 

Hartzell said if students self-isolate before returning to campus, it will help lower the spread of COVID-19 in the community. He said the University is relying on students to take this responsibility seriously. 

“Our goal is to create a safer environment for learning, teaching and research on campus, and that means some students, faculty and staff will remain at home and learn and work online in the fall,” Hartzell said. “This will enable us to reduce density and maintain social distance whenever and wherever possible.” 

Hartzell also announced that the University is continuing to work on the Protect Texas Together app, with a planned release date set in mid-August. The app will allow students, faculty and staff to track their daily symptoms to get cleared to come to campus. The app also will track campus locations and direct individuals who may be sick with COVID-19 to University Health Services or UT Health Austin. 

There will be a call-based app to accommodate users who do not have access to smartphones or computers, Hartzell said. 

He reiterated that face masks will be enforced in buildings on campus, and students who refuse to wear masks in shared campus spaces and force classes to be canceled will be subject to disciplinary action including suspension from campus. 

The University is closely monitoring the situation to make plans for sporting events in the fall and may reduce crowd sizes at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to 25%, Hartzell said. In a letter to season ticket holders on July 20, UT Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said the school planned to begin the season with a maximum occupancy of 50%. Hartzell’s letter comes a day after the interim public health medical director for Travis County warned against opening stadiums.