The following is a letter from UT Austin President Jay Hartzell to the university community regarding the reopening of campus. The university was closed Sunday, Feb. 14 through 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Dear UT Community,
I know that many of you are still grappling with the consequences of the winter storms. From power outages and burst pipes to canceled schools and grocery shortages, all of us have had a rough 10 days. And although the sun may be shining again, many of us remain tired and stressed. In addition, the storms did not spare campus. University teams have been very active on and off campus during the past week — making emergency repairs, fixing burst pipes, keeping systems operational and ensuring that the water supply is safe. We’ve made great progress, and I couldn’t be prouder of our staff. Because of their tremendous efforts, we can reopen campus tomorrow.
- We will resume classes tomorrow at 8 a.m., whether online, hybrid or in person. Only the Norman Hackerman Building (NHB) on the main campus is not ready for reopening, and instructors will be communicating with their students about alternate arrangements for labs in that building. Please know that the university’s leadership is actively working with faculty members to restructure the rest of the semester so we can catch up on lost time, while also keeping spring break and not extending the semester.
- Employees should plan to return to work tomorrow, whether remotely or in person.
- At this time, we have only three buildings that are not ready to resume operations: NHB on the main campus, as well as EME and PRC 33 at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. If you work, teach or take class in any of these buildings, you will receive a separate communication from your instructor or supervisor detailing alternative arrangements.
- Although almost all buildings and classrooms have been verified for reopening, please report any further issues as you return. In some cases, a building may be open, but the lab or classroom it houses may still need work. Some cleared spaces may still need cleaning or other routine repair. If you come across a water leak or other facilities-related issue while on campus, report it by calling 512-471-2020 or visiting the facilities service center.
- University Health Services is offering in-person and telehealth visits along with symptomatic testing for students and Proactive Community Testing for the university community. In addition, the Counseling and Mental Health Center has tele-counseling available and will resume scheduling private offices on the fifth floor of the Student Services Building for students to use for these visits, if needed.
- Students who still need support for food, emergency housing, academic accommodations: Contact Student Emergency Services for assistance at 512-471-5017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For staff members who face financial hardship, and physical or mental health issues because of the winter storms: the Staff Emergency Fund can offer limited financial assistance for staff members experiencing temporary financial hardship due to the winter storms. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is providing services remotely through video and phone counseling.
As we continue to get back in the swing of things, everyone’s patience, kindness and good humor are deeply appreciated. Despite 2020 now being in its 14th month, I’m fully confident we’ll be back up to speed shortly. We’re weathering the storm of COVID-19 — we’re weathering the weather, too!
I look forward to seeing our return to teaching and research.