By JIM VERTUNO and JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — University of Texas students will return to campus for the fall semester with classes from late August until Thanksgiving, and finals to be conducted online after the holiday, the school announced said Wednesday.
The school’s 50,000 students were scattered from campus in March and classes were moved online for the rest of the semester and for summer school because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new plan, campus will be open for the regularly scheduled Aug. 26 start of the fall semester. Students will not return to campus after the Thanksgiving break and will instead take finals online.
“With COVID-19 still expected to be active this fall, we hope to avoid the possibility of students becoming infected during the Thanksgiving break and then spreading the virus to classmates upon their return after Thanksgiving,” said the announcement from outgoing President Greg Fenves and interim President Jay Hartzell.
The Texas announcement did not detail any plans on campus social distancing measures in classrooms and residence halls, or plans for the upcoming college football season. The message said those details will be announced later.
Texas reported 1,411 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as the total cases reported since the state’s first one was reported March 17 climbed to 51,323. The state reported 50 new deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 1,419, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. The true number is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Lozano reported from Houston.