AUSTIN (KXAN) — Managing the surge in COVID-19 cases on college campuses is a top concern for educators, parents and students.
The University of Texas at Austin and Texas State are set to resume classes this week — many of them will be virtual for the time being.
Classes will be virtual for the first two weeks at UT, unless professors choose to teach in person while providing an online option too.
“I’m excited, but also kind of like dreading. Because college is not supposed to be online,” UT student Kasey McClure said.
UT student William Harris isn’t looking forward to virtual classes either.
“I particularly think that it is a waste of our money to not get the full experience of our university,” Harris said.
UT made the decision as researchers are anticipating a surge any day now.
“We’re expecting that peak to be more than three times higher than the past highest peak that we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic, in terms of cases, and we’re also expecting hospitalizations to reach heights that we haven’t experienced so far,” UT professor Lauren Meyers said.
UT’s dashboard is already showing more than 1,000 estimated positive COVID-19 cases out of its population of around 68,000.
Texas State’s dashboard shows 590 active cases out of about 42,000 staff and students. They will be fully virtual for the first two weeks, without an in-person option.
“I think that if I wear my mask, and social distance from people, I should be able to stay healthy, but I’m not sure about others,” Texas State student Olivia Merritt said.
Texas State did require anyone moving back onto campus to show a negative COVID test, taken 3 days prior. This came even though finding a test off-campus throughout Central Texas has been difficult.
“A couple weeks ago, I started showing symptoms and couldn’t get a test for a week later,” Merritt said.
Both Texas State and UT-Austin are recommending masking, vaccinations and regular testing once on campus. Texas State is still selecting staff and students at random to be tested weekly.
Students try to remain optimistic, though once again, this isn’t what they planned for.
“It’s just like constant back and forth, so it’s kind of like mentally draining,” McClure said.
Both UT and Texas States are planning on resuming in-person classes Jan. 31.