Mandatory face coverings and move to online classes after Thanksgiving among fall plans


Ellyson Ortega

President Taylor Eighmy speaks at the grand opening of the Westside Community Center in September, 2019. On Tuesday, Eighmy and two of his fellow administrators released part of their plan to reopen UTSA in the fall.

Josh Peck, News Editor

UTSA will require masks to be worn on campus and classes will move online-only following Thanksgiving break according to an email from university leadership on Tuesday. The two decisions mirror acts taken by UT Austin and Texas A&M University

The fall academic calendar will remain the same, with classes beginning on August 24. Courses will be a combination of online, hybrid and in person, and administrators said all in-person activities will include alternative virtual opportunities for all students. 

The email from President Taylor Eighmy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Espy and Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Veronica Mendez said in addition to the requirement to wear face coverings on campus, the university will mandate all students, faculty and staff to complete compliance training. Other health measures include building- and room-occupancy limits, protective barriers in common areas, self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and contact tracing. 

Eighmy, Espy and Mendez also said the university’s plan will be highly adaptable in the event that all activities and instruction need to be quickly moved online. Libraries, the Campus Recreational Center and the Student Union will all open in the fall with safety measures in place. 

The statement mentioned housing only briefly, saying housing would be provided for students who choose to live on campus and further housing safety guidelines will be made by the Public Health Task Force. University administrators also said they were working on developing flexible workplace policies for faculty and staff. 

The information released on Tuesday was meant to encompass a more comprehensive plan for the fall, but in light of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, administrators decided they needed several more days before they could unveil the entire plan. More details are expected to be released on July 8. 

Virtual town halls will be held July 9 and July 10 so the tactical teams designated with planning for the fall can receive feedback and field questions from students, faculty and staff. Final course-specific information, such as their locations, times and modalities, will be available in the registration system by August 1. Information about work modality will be released on July 28.