UT Austin is extending its spring break by one week in response to the coronavirus, UT President Greg Fenves announced Wednesday. Classes were originally scheduled to resume March 23, but will now resume March 30.
The campus will stay open during that week so UT faculty and staff have time to prepare for increased precautionary measures, known as "social distancing," to employ when classes start back up.
These measures will include converting many lectures to an online format, rearranging classroom spaces and updating practices in facilities like residence and dining halls and recreational facilities “to reduce unnecessary contact and promote better personal hygiene.”
UT will also look at how to support students and employees who have special health needs and are vulnerable to the virus.
“Students, faculty members and staff members will receive more details from the university or their individual college or school during the coming days,” Fenves said in the statement.
Students who want to return to the UT campus March 23 can still do so; facilities, including residence halls and dining halls, will still be operating.
“Please remember to take preventive measures and be cautious when traveling and interacting with people during spring break,” Fenves urged students.
Terrance Hines, medical director of UT's University Health Services, says he has advice for students who feel sick once they come back to campus.
“For students who have questions, concerns, think they might be sick, we invite them to contact University Health Services, the nurse advice line,” he said. “We discourage them from showing up first. We want them to call and let us know their situation, so we can advise them on the best way for them to access our care.”
The university also announced Wednesday that no spectators would be allowed at any home sporting events through March 22. Teams will still travel to competitions as scheduled. Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments have also opted to not have fans during competitions.
Debbie Hiott, the general manager of KUT and KUTX, which are based on the UT campus, told employees in an email Wednesday that staff will be increasing social distancing in their workspaces beginning Thursday and that some people will end up working from home.
This post has been updated.
Claire McInerny contributed to this report.