AUSTIN, Texas - With an extended Spring Break a day away, students at UT started Thursday with a lot of questions. Those in dorms wanted to know- when they get back- will they need a new place to stay? Others wondered if the doors to their classrooms would be locked.
"It’s kind of like, everything is all over the place right now, I’m not sure what clothes I need to bring what school work I need to bring,” said UT Freshman Elizabeth Wiesen.
On Thursday, University officials said that the plan to keep coronavirus away would not include closing dorms or shutting down the campus.
"The libraries will remain open, our study areas will remain open, campus will remain open with life, that’s why we don’t want to close the campus, but we will have the social distancing guidelines in place at all those locations,” said UT President Greg Fenves.
When school resumes, smaller classes will be held in reconfigured rooms to increase spacing between students. Courses in large lecture halls will be done online.
But not everything, according to UT Provost Maurie McInnis, "So a good example of a class and course credit that can’t be moved to online is a pharmacist who is currently in a clinical placement and needs those clinical hours in order to be licensed as a pharmacist,” said McInnis.
Special events, like at the Frank Erwin Center are being shut down for two weeks. That includes the Bass Concert Hall where Thursday's matinee of Aladdin was its last performance.
For some the measures being taken are disappointing but understandable."Higher education is important, but if we are not alive to utilize that education, then it’s not worth it,” said Seth LaPray, who will graduate in May.
UT has already recalled about 700 students studying abroad. Once back all of them will go through personalized monitoring programs. A decision on graduation day, commencement ceremonies which are typically packed, has not yet been made.
Coronavirus prevention steps are not limited just to the 40 Acres. There are other universities in the area that are also making adjustments.
Meanwhile, cleaning crews at St. Edward's University were working Thursday from building to building. Students were told, by email, the campus needed some extra time for its wipe down. "So I shouldn’t be too much of a problem if the class schedule stays the same,” said Elianna Chavez.
A limited number of St. Ed's students, from foreign counties and out of state, will be allowed to stay on campus.
No classes will be held on campus after the break, everything is going online from March 23 to April 4.
"I don’t know really how they are really going to do grading, and some classes that are really heavy set on human interaction, so it bothers me a little bit, but some classes are ok on line,” said Joshua Teague.