UT-Austin dorm residents consider whether to return on campus after Thanksgiving


Photo Credit: Rocky Higine | Daily Texan Staff

Students living in on-campus residence halls are weighing their options between going home for Thanksgiving and returning in January or staying in residence halls until the end of the semester. 

In an email sent May 20, the University said “students will not return after Thanksgiving and, instead, will participate in reading days and final exams remotely.” While classes will be fully online after break, students are still able to go home for Thanksgiving and return until residence halls close for winter break Dec. 17.

Justin Jaskowiak, director for apartments, occupancy and conference and event services for University Housing and Dining, said students who choose to go home early will receive a partial refund. 

“University Housing and Dining created a pathway for a student to leave early if they wanted to at Thanksgiving break time, and if they did so they would receive an adjustment to their housing bill,” Jaskowiak said. “We are asking students to notify us (that they want to leave) by Nov. 1.”

Biomedical engineering freshman Neha Jayarajan has decided to go home for Thanksgiving and return to her dorm in the spring semester, but she does not feel like she will be missing out. 

“I feel like (during) that time, I wouldn't be spending (it) with people anyway or doing stuff because it's in preparation for finals” Jayarajan said.

Jayarajan said her return home requires extra thought because of the dangers of COVID-19. 

“The process of going home has impacted me a lot,” Jayarajan said. “I've started to put together a plan. I'm going to get tested this many times before going home, especially because I live with my grandma at home, and I definitely have had to take measures.”

Mia Weissbluth, Middle Eastern studies freshman, said she will be returning home during Thanksgiving but plans to return to UT to finish the semester. 

“I'd rather be on campus in college than at home,” Weissbluth said. “I'd rather be as close as I can be than at home with my siblings.”

So far, 1,550 residents of about 3,264 residents have notified University Housing and Dining that they want to leave for the semester by Nov. 30, Jaskowiak said. Jaskowiak said UHD will work with the UHS to promote proactive community testing to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect the number of residents living in residence halls. The number is 3,264, not "about 3,600."