In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Texas at San Antonio has extended spring break through the week of March 15 and will switch to online-only instruction when classes resume March 23, the school announced.
Students were supposed to return from spring break on Monday, March 16. But because of the coronavirus (known as COVID-19), UTSA added an additional week of vacation.
“Students are encouraged, when feasible, to stay at home with their families or at their permanent residences during the spring break extension and for the duration of the online instruction period,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy wrote in a March 12 email to students, faculty, and staff.
The online-only class setup will be in place until at least April 12, he said, and possibly through the end of the spring semester.
The last day of UTSA’s regular academic schedule has been pushed to May 8, Eighmy said, and the period for spring final exams has been shortened to May 11-15 to adjust for cancellation of classes the week of March 15. For now, spring graduation ceremonies will go on as scheduled May 16 and 17 at the Alamodome.
UTSA’s campuses will remain open during and after the prolonged spring break, and normal business operations and services “will continue to the degree possible,” Eighmy wrote. Residence halls will be available to students who need to stay on campus.
“In the weeks to come, we will be exploring additional telecommuting opportunities for faculty and staff, where appropriate and as warranted,” he wrote.
Eighmy said UTSA will promote “social distancing” — designed to reduce coronavirus risks — by asking organizers to consider postponing or canceling meetings or events with over 50 people, or by moving them to a digital platform.
“Good hygiene will continue to be emphasized for in-person gatherings of any size,” he wrote.
UTSA joins scores of U.S. schools making similar changes, including the University of Texas at Austin, the Alamo Colleges District, Texas A&M University campuses in San Antonio and College Station, Rice University, and the University of Houston.
“While there is still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, we expect that it will spread more broadly in Texas. We know that universities have greater risk for transmission, especially in the weeks following spring break when many students, faculty, and staff are returning to campus after traveling,” Eighmy wrote. “Our best chance of slowing the spread of coronavirus is to make these changes now, before we begin to see cases on our campus.”
He said the status of UTSA research activities, sporting events, and other campus activities requiring an in-person presence will be weighed on a case-by-case basis.