Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Rise in respiratory infections led to class cancelation

Amara Lopez

The rise in COVID-19, cold and flu rates over the past few weeks caused many students and professors to fall behind in their classes.

According to the CDC Texas is experiencing “very high” levels of respiratory infection as of Feb. 8. Travis County also had increased rates of emergency department visits and positive test results for viral respiratory illness. In situations where professors fell ill, some canceled classes, while others offered alternate solutions in cases where they — or their students — need to miss class. 

Astronomy professor Paul Shapiro said he implemented live Zoom calls and opened doors to circulate fresh air for his large undergraduate classes last semester. He taught a smaller graduate class this semester but still took precautions. 

“I am still wearing a face mask, though, since it is another closed-box classroom with even less opportunity for fresh-air circulation,” Shapiro said in an email. “If someday, one of my students is sick or possibly contagious, I can certainly add a Zoom component then, as needed. Why not?”

Associate English professor Lars Hinrichs said he was forced to pivot when he developed a mild case of the flu last week. 

“I was half in need of rest but also wanted to protect (students),” Hinrichs said. “I wanted to provide online content and make up for the missed class session, so I recorded lectures. That doesn’t make things easy at all. It’s really four times as much work.”

Hinrichs said more than a few sick days for a professor can throw the whole course off track and lead to confusion for students.

“It’s so awful and the syllabus falls apart,” Hinrichs said. “People get disoriented and you have to think about ‘Okay, what am I gonna take out of the syllabus?’”

To combat the rise in sickness, Dr. Terrance Hines, the executive director and chief medical officer of the University Health Services, encourages students and professors to get vaccinated if they can, stay home if they are feeling ill and practice overall good hygiene. 

“Do those sort of basic things that we all try to do and be consistent with to help protect others and ourselves,” Hines said.

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