University of Texas at Austin Tower lit up to celebrate first day of online learning

The University of Texas at Austin Tower was lit up to welcome back students for their first day of classes after spring break.

It wasn't the return many students were expecting though as classes on campus have been canceled due to coronavirus COVID-19 and all courses are now being held online.

RELATED: UT Austin extends spring break, plans to switch classes to online

In a statement online, UT President Gregory Fenves said, “Monday is a continuation of your studies as well as a new beginning. You will rise to the occasion and thrive in your academic work. You will make the most of this opportunity, and I wish you all the best during the remainder of this unprecedented semester.”

University of Texas officials had extended spring week by one week originally because they said it would give faculty and staff extra time to prepare for social distancing on campus. But as concerns over the spread of the coronavirus grew, officials decided to move classes online for the remainder of the spring semester.

RELATED: UT Austin releases study on impact of social distancing

Students have been asked not to return to campus after March 30 unless there is a specific need and if they have living arrangements elsewhere.

Spring semester classes will now be conducted via Zoom, Canvas and other methods and students will have the opportunity to complete the courses for which they are currently registered, especially those expecting to graduate this semester.

RELATED: UT Austin moving classes online for remainder of spring semester

In specific cases, such as clinical placements leading to professional licensure, UT Austin will review requests and faculty members will work directly with those students to make arrangements that adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Students who do not have off-campus access to computers or Wi-Fi are instructed to reach out to Student Emergency Services for support.

RELATED: UT Austin warns about COVID-19 email scams

UT Austin is requiring students to move home from their residence halls, but Fenves says emergency housing will be available on a case-by-case basis to students who have compelling reasons to remain on campus, or who do not have other living arrangements. 

Besides the closing of campus and online classes, graduation commencement has also been postponed. 

RELATED: UT Austin postpones graduation commencement amid coronavirus outbreak

Commencement, originally scheduled for May 21 - 23, will go virtual but details about that have not been released. The new plan will also include celebrating students on campus later in the year as well for the full array of graduation and commenced ceremonies. 

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