The University of Texas System and Texas A&M University announced that spring commencement ceremonies would be postponed and that the remainder of the semester would be completed remotely, their latest responses to the novel coronavirus.
Many higher education institutions in the state said last week they would extend spring break and move classes online, at least temporarily. Since then, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended canceling gatherings with 50 or more people, and several colleges that initially said they'd resume in-person classes at some point have since said that won't happen this semester.
Among those institutions is Baylor University, which said Monday that online courses would last through May and that commencement would be postponed.
In a Tuesday letter to the presidents of UT campuses, system Chancellor James B. Milliken said that "students who have paid for residence halls, dining plans, and other specific, related campus services they cannot use will be reimbursed or credited for the unused portions." He also said the system would be establishing an emergency fund to "address specific student needs."
UT students are being encouraged to stay or return home, though those with no "suitable alternative" can ask to remain in the dorms and use campus dining programs.
Graduating students at UT will receive their degrees as scheduled, according to Milliken's letter. A&M — which had previously announced classes would be online for the rest of semester — said today it was "planning mail delivery of diplomas to graduates."
UT-Austin President Greg Fenves said that in "specific and unusual cases, such as clinical placements leading to professional licensure," administrators and faculty would work with students to arrange their instruction. He directed students without off-campus access to computers or Wi-Fi to contact a student emergency services office.
"This decision today will create new challenges for many of our students, specifically regarding the completion of courses and credit (especially for students intending to graduate this year), housing, the retrieval of personal items from university residence halls and access to technology away from campus," Fenves said. "I am directing faculty members, deans and university leaders to work to accommodate student needs throughout these difficult times."
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