AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas, as they did at the beginning of the fall semester, says they are doing the same thing for the start of the spring semester: tracking where students come back from and how many students they expect to come to campus sick.
With that information, university officials may take some precautionary measures.
"We are constantly evaluating our procedures and our policies to make sure we stay up on what the best thing to do is," said Art Markman, head of the UT academic working group for COVID-19 planning.
Markman said overall UT students have done their part. "We knew from the very beginning that student behavior was going to be crucial to our success," he said.
While there have been a few clusters and reports of large gatherings, Markman said many students have taken to the policies and guidelines. "As a result, while we have had a small number of illnesses on campus each week, it's remained steady, so we haven't had a massive outbreak," Markman said.
Markman says the procedures the university has put into place, like implementing testing and establishing social distancing barriers throughout campus, are working, as well as working with Austin Public Health on contact tracing as well as other major projects.
"There haven't been cases of spread through classes or labs," Markman said. "A lot of the procedures we have put into place on campus have worked pretty well."
However, as students break for the holidays, with some returning home to see old friends and family, Markman said it’s unclear how that will play out come the spring semester.
"The main thing we’ve learned is that no prediction ages well," he said. "And so, one thing that we have tried to do is be adaptive as possible to the circumstances over time."
He also says to not underestimate these students. "18-to-20-year old kids get kind of a bad rap, but when we look back at our lives, we realize there are a few things we look back that we aren't too proud of, but in large, we look back at that age and we realized we also did a lot of great things,” he said.
If necessary, Markman said there will be steps in place, that the university says they are constantly working on, that they can take to ensure the safety of the students
"But, we will make a real determination on what that looks like and what we're asking students to do when they come back a little bit closer to the date they will be returning,” he said.