COVID-19 Extending Spring Break

Dear Moody Faculty and Staff:

By now many of you have received and read the emails from President Fenves and Provost McInnis extending Spring Break by one week and increasing "social distancing” efforts when students return on March 30 in order to prevent or slow transmission of COVID-19.

All faculty and staff involved with teaching are expected to use these next two weeks to focus on the following steps:

  • Whenever possible, all classes in Moody College should be moved from in-person format to online format starting March 30 and continuing for the rest of the semester or until conditions change. Faculty have authority to make whatever changes are needed in their syllabi and courses to comply with these changes; maximum student accommodations must be offered for those affected by these changes.

  • Mary Crawford from the Moody College Dean’s Office has been compiling resources and best practices for making this transition. Faculty and graduate student instructors can refer to this Teaching Continuity Guide to help get started with the transition to online teaching. The guide includes preliminary considerations to determine the best options for your courses, as well as links to helpful resources. UT is in the process of integrating Zoom with Canvas, so expect updates in the next few days on how to access and use this web conferencing tool, if you need to. Training and consultation sessions will be scheduled in the coming week. Updates will be posted in this guide. The document also includes links to other UT resources.

  • For all courses that cannot be moved fully online, faculty should move as much of the course online as possible and reconfigure in-person meetings to increase distance between students and reduce the risks of transmission. Department Chairs and School Directors should compile a detailed list of courses that meet this criterion and work with the Dean’s Office through Mary Crawford to consider room and space adjustments or other accommodations.

  • Chairs and Directors should also compile a list of courses that cannot leverage online teaching at all and work with the Dean’s Office through Mary Crawford to consider room and space adjustments or other accommodations.

  • Instructors will be responsible for communicating directly with your students on the changes that are taking place in your courses. The college will provide message templates for instructors to use by sometime next week.

  • Instructors who are moving portions or all of their course(s) online and who do not currently have access to a laptop or offsite computer that is equipped for teaching in a social distance environment should contact the IT Team immediately. Please request the hardware and software needed, and we will do our very best to accommodate their needs.

The following information relates to all Moody faculty and staff:

  • Moody College will consider other changes or adjustments to our physical space to increase social distancing, increase disinfection of surfaces, and reduce the risks of transmission. The CMA3 café will likely be closed for the rest of the semester and BMC1 café will be closed at least until classes resume on March 30.

  • All public events and gatherings should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for whether or not to hold them given the risks of transmission and need for increased social distancing. Please continue to consult with Department Chairs, School Directors, and the Dean’s Office when considering and communicating cancellations.
  • We continue to await instructions from the Tower about modified rules for teleworking and will share more when we know more. People with special needs or who have any symptoms or risk of exposure to COVID- 19 should immediately discuss their needs for accommodations with their supervisor. Those who are ill or at increased risk should stay home, and we will do what we can to be as supportive as possible during this difficult time.

  • Please continue to inform the Dean’s Office of any known, suspected, or possible cases or exposures of COVID-19 among our faculty, staff, and students so we can continue to inform UT health officials who are monitoring these cases and providing guidance on self-monitoring and self-isolation.

We are all living and working through an unprecedented time as this global pandemic progresses over the coming weeks and months. Please stay informed about this rapidly changing situation by reading all emails from UT, the college, and your department/school/unit and through credible websites such as https://www.utexas.edu/coronavirus,
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/coronavirus.

While it is impossible to predict what will happen next, we have a professional and moral obligation to our students and to each other to do everything we can to reduce the risks of transmission and illness, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Please reach out to me anytime with your questions, concerns, or ideas.

Thank you for your help and support through these challenges.