AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas at Austin provided an update on how they're moving forward to begin this semester.
UT Austin says as of Tuesday about 45 to 50 percent of students are choosing to attend online-only classes this fall. Enrollment for on-campus is reportedly significantly reduced.
The university announced it's investing millions of dollars in testing that will be "nimble and strategic".
"When that reduction is involved with our campus combined with safety measures and our testing measures we think this will create a safer campus for everyone," said interim president Jay Hartzell.
Hartzell says they're hopeful about how this upcoming semester will look for students, faculty and staff.
"We're actually very optimistic about ultimate fall enrollment numbers look good, they're robust and even in some pockets where expected some weakness like international students so we're all hoping travel conditions won't prevent people who intended to come to actually come to campus but if you look now compared to previous years it looks great," he says.
In an online virtual briefing, Tuesday afternoon Hartzell says the university is investing multi-millions in testing and other previously announced measures will remain in place to ensure the safety of on-campus activities.
Hartzell says as of Tuesday 20 percent of students will be hybrid, taking a mix of in-person and online classes. Only five percent of students will take all of their classes in person.
"All of our safety is going to depend on other aspects including reducing density on campus as I've mentioned, our ability to socially distance, wearing masks, and encouraging more remote work and remote learning," Hartzell adds.
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Athletics, on-campus housing and most recent count lists were big topics but one that significantly resurfaced was testing.
They say they hope to test up to 5,000 community members each week, and hundreds of symptomatic students each day using in-house labs. They're also planning to use three rapid testing machines to administer about 100 tests per day with a 15 minute result time.
University says testing will cost $25 and will be free for students.
"If a student or staff member is attending in-person classes tests positive, what steps will be taken by the University to help mitigate the spread and will this trigger a shutdown?" J.B. Bird, Director of Media Relations and Newsroom said.
Art Markman, Chair of the Academic Planning Working Group, replied, "When we look at what would make us have to shut down the campus we'd have to lose control of process of testing, tracing and isolating, and if we believed activity on campus was having a negative on the community but there isn't a specific number."
In Tuesday's briefing, UT announced an agreement between Austin Public Health and Dell Seton Medical School. They'll contact trace for UT community members who test positive.
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