UT will offer almost 60% of spring classes online with a similar number of courses having online, hybrid and in-person modality as in the fall semester. Students living in residence halls may be required to undergo COVID-19 testing when returning in the spring as the pandemic accelerates nationwide. University Health Services will continue to administer COVID-19 tests for students, faculty and staff.
Graduates will possibly attend an in-person graduation in the spring semester. The 2020 spring and fall graduations were and will be virtual. This would be the University’s first in-person graduation during the pandemic, with mask requirements and an attendance cap.
COVID-19 vaccinations, several of which use research from UT scientists, are in the final stages of approval by the federal government. UT is preparing for distribution, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to distribute vaccines in phases. There are no current plans to make the vaccine mandatory to return to campus in the spring.
One of the lawsuits the University will be facing next semester is from a former photographer who sued Bevo XV’s owners and handlers after the longhorn injured him. The 5th United States Circuit Court of Appeals revived a 2018 lawsuit students filed saying the University’s free speech policies violate the First and 14th amendments. A history professor filed a lawsuit claiming he faced retaliation for distributing a report highlighting race-related pay disparities.
‘The Eyes of Texas’
“The Eyes of Texas” University committee will analyze the song’s origins and present their findings in January. UT President Jay Hartzell created the committee after the Longhorn Band was unable to play the alma mater because too many players, pointing to the song’s racist origins, refused to participate, and students called to “Rewrite Not Reclaim" the song.
Students are worried about whether to secure housing for the spring as COVID-19 addendums are added to some off-campus residences and UT increases rent for its off-campus apartments. APD reported 450 COVID-19 policy violations for large gatherings and noise complaints in West Campus since classes began Aug. 26 through Nov. 11. Amid gathering limits, city officials shut down at least one party in West Campus.
The 87th Texas Legislative Session will begin Jan. 12 with nearly 900 bills filed so far. More than 100 bills are education-related. Bills filed include designating polling places on college campuses, providing suicide prevention information on student identification cards and regulating the carrying of handguns at higher education institutions.