UT Austin & Texas State: Students should self-quarantine ahead of fall semester


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas Austin is asking that students returning to campus for the fall 2020 semester self-quarantine for 14 days before they do.

In a Wednesday announcement, UT Interim President Jay Hartzell says students are being asked to self-quarantine before their arrival in Austin, if possible.

“To effectively self-quarantine, please stay in your home and limit in-person interactions as much as possible throughout the two-week period… If quarantining at home is not possible, then please quarantine for up to 14 days before your first on-campus activity once you arrive in Austin.”

UT says if you are already in Austin, you should quarantine for 14 days in your home before your first on-campus activity or class.

In addition to self-quarantining, the university is reminding the community and visitors that masks are required at all times inside university-owned and controlled buildings, except in certain conditions.

It also said it was considering having UT football games at Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium be at 25% instead of 50% capacity.

Hartzell signs off, saying: “Thank you all, and stay safe and healthy out there.”

Students react

Students KXAN spoke to said they don’t think this plan to quarantine is possible. Move-in dates coincide too closely with the start of on-campus learning, so they would be forced to miss class if they adhered to a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

“I’m from New York, and I can’t get back to Austin until the 24th. With classes starting on the 26th, how am I supposed to isolate for 14 days? That’s just not physically possible,” said incoming senior Chris Classie.

Others are taking virtual courses so they don’t feel the quarantine applies to them, unless they want to follow it strictly for off-campus recreation and socializing.

“It doesn’t really make me feel any more safe,” said senior Samantha Feingold.

With the possibility of football season being limited to students, many recognize that their semester will not be “normal,” but conceded that these measures were necessary steps.

“In the long run, doing what we can now is going to help us have more fun and a mask-free future,” said junior Emma Ellis. “We just want to look out for the greater community and not have to worry about the minor inconveniences like football and parties.”

Texas State

In a letter to students, the Texas State University Dean of Students announced safety measures being put in place for the fall including a 14-day quarantine, similar to UT.

“Our administration, faculty, and staff have been working hard to prepare a fall plan that prioritizes your health and safety while offering expanded choices in course instruction delivery, accessible student support services, and opportunities for safe engagement activities,” Dean Margarita Arellano wrote.

The university is asking students to:

  • Quarantine for 14 days before arriving on campus
  • Review current fall 2020 semester schedules and meet with academic advisors as soon as possible with concerns
  • Bring cloth face coverings and wear face coverings at all times, inside and outside on the campuses, unless you are alone
  • Conduct daily self screenings for symptoms related to COVID-19
  • Practice social distancing and follow all guidelines on campus
  • Use proper hand hygiene
  • Stay flexible and a have positive attitude

Texas State Athletics also moved to digital ticketing. Seating will be reserved to comply with social distancing recommendations. This change will remove the open seating option that was available in the upper deck.

Baylor University

Baylor University students are being asked to complete and send in a COVID-19 test kit in preparation for the fall semester. Students must confirm a negative test before returning to campus.

University officials say it is imperative that students complete and return the test on the same day it is received in order for it to be returned to the university in time for classes.

“Testing is just one of the many safety precautions and measures we are taking to keep our Baylor Family healthy and safe, as well as Waco – there will be 17,000 students soon arriving from across the country and around the world for the start of the fall semester,” wrote Baylor University President Linda Livingstone.

Community leaders, Golden Wave Members, Louise Herrington School of Nursing students, student-athletes and student volunteers living off-campus will have a different testing protocol to adhere to.

St. Edward’s University

Similar to Baylor, all staff, students and faculty at St. Edward’s University are being asked to complete an Everlywell test prior to the fall semester. The university partnered with Everlywell after receiving FDA emergency use authorization.

Students testing positive will not be allowed to travel to Austin until a healthcare professional allows them to do so. Each positive case will be matched with a telehealth professional for follow-ups.

The university also established health and safety guidelines for students to follow, reduced the amount of students living in university housing, limiting access to resident halls and increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

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