UT Health Austin distributes 100,000 vaccinations, lifts research operation restrictions, plans for 2021 fall semester

Sheryl Lawrence

UT Health Austin said they hope to offer vaccinations to all UT community members by July after distributing over 100,000 vaccinations, UT President Jay Hartzell said Thursday in a message to the UT community. The community update also addressed plans to adjust COVID-19 guidelines moving forward as vaccine distribution continues to increase. 

The University also announced plans to return to full-capacity research operations in July, according to the message. This includes research operations moving from Level 3 to Level 2 operations starting Monday, which will increase the workforce density limit from 50% to 70%. Research operations will move to Level 1, or 85% workforce density limit, on May 17. 

The UT Proactive Community Testing program has also administered over 100,000 COVID-19 tests and identified more than 1,000 cases who tested positive for COVID-19 but were asymptomatic, according to the UT COVID-19 dashboard.

On March 12, Hartzell announced that the UT community should plan for a “near normal” fall 2021 semester with staff members coming to campus regularly for in-person teaching and research, which he reiterated in his message Thursday. 

Dan Jaffe, interim executive vice president and provost, said in an email to faculty members on April 7 that University administration is assessing whether certain classes will be offered online, hybrid or in person. He said they will keep recommendations from public health officials in mind. He said they are also trying to find the best possible learning environment for students. Hartzell said in Thursday’s message that many more in-person classes will be available and to expect a phased opening of libraries, museums, galleries and performance spaces moving forward.

In his Thursday message, Hartzell also said the UT community should expect more changes in the coming weeks regarding COVID-19 guidelines on campus and revisions to travel policies.

Hartzell said at the end of the message that the University will be ready to reinstate additional restrictions if the condition of the pandemic changes.