Rice, Texas A&M suspend in-person classes for rest of semester; other Texas universities extend spring break, move classes online
Editor’s note: this story is being updated as new announcements are made.
Dozens of Texas universities announced Wednesday and Thursday that they would extend students' spring breaks and start switching to online classes, joining a swelling group of colleges across the country taking steps to prepare their campuses for the novel coronavirus. At least two — Trinity University and Rice University — have asked most students to move out of their dorms and said classes will be held remotely for the remainder of the semester.
Most Texas institutions extending their breaks said they plan to use the extra time to prepare faculty for teaching online. Many have canceled events, prohibited large gatherings, stepped up their sanitation measures and restricted university-sponsored travel.
Some cited the unique challenges universities face in managing the contagious disease, particularly in the face of an upcoming break.
Alamo Colleges District
The Alamo Colleges District is extending students’ spring break to March 20, and campus buildings will be closed that week except for libraries and computer labs. Classes will resume March 23 but will be taught remotely.
Austin Community College District
The Austin Community College District will extend spring break for students, and switch to online classes after that, starting March 30. "Face-to-face instruction and services will be limited," the school said.
Baylor University President Linda Livingstone announced that spring break will be extended one week and classes will be provided exclusively online for two weeks after, from March 23 to April 3.
Residence halls and designated dining facilities will be open during the next three weeks, but the university has asked students to "determine whether their campus or permanent residence is safest."
There are no reported coronavirus cases at Baylor.
Del Mar College
Del Mar College, in Corpus Christi, is extending spring break for one week but expects on-campus, face-to-face classes to resume March 23 “dependent upon the rapidly evolving situation.”
Galveston College has closed its campus as a precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The college will offer complete online classes to students.
Houston Community College
Houston Community College is extending students' spring break by two days and is planning to move courses partially or fully online.
"We realize that this decision means a small loss in class time; however, the lost time will be made up through extended instructional time or supplemental instruction once classes resume," Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said in a letter Thursday.
Separately, they have immediately closed “two campus locations” where there may have been exposed to the coronavirus. The college has initiated “immediate deep cleaning procedures.”
Lamar University, in Beaumont, will move classes online for the week of March 23.
Lee College will be closed March 16 through 22. Classes resume online on March 23.
Lone Star College
Lone Star College is extending its spring break by one week, but expects to resume classes March 23.
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View A&M University will suspend classes until March 23, and students are "encouraged" to remain off campus during that time. Faculty will spend the week of March 16 undergoing training on remote-learning platforms.
Rice University, which has had one confirmed case of the virus in an employee, has asked all undergraduates living on campus to move out March 25 if they are "are able to do so." International students and those facing "housing insecurity or a precarious living situation" can petition to remain on campus.
The Houston university will also switch to remote classes on March 23.
“Epidemiologic studies have shown that residential university settings, like at Rice, are some of the most challenging contexts for preventing the spread of disease, due to the density of students living in close quarters. Our residential college system is one of the defining and most appealing features of student life at Rice, but in this instance, their size and the concentrated number of students who closely live and dine together increases the chance of transmission of the coronavirus,” the university said, in a message from Dean Bridget Gorman.
Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University is extending spring break through March 22, and will switch to remote classes for the remainder of the spring semester. Residence halls will remain open.
San Jacinto College
San Jacinto College will not hold classes March 16 through 20 to allow faculty and staff to prepare for providing classes and services online, in small groups and by appointment, in line with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding social distancing. The campuses will be closed next week to students and visitors, with the exception of the child care centers on the Central and North Campuses. Employees are expected to report to work.
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University is switching to online instruction for two weeks after spring break, starting March 23. "The University is requesting that as many students as is possible leave the residence halls during Spring Break and remain home until April 5, as we expect normal operations to resume on April 6," the school said.
Southwestern University in Georgetown is adding two days to students' spring break and urging them to remain off campus during that time. Classes will resume March 25.
St. Edward’s University
St. Edward’s University in Austin will host two weeks of online classes after the end of its scheduled spring break. Modified campus services, including residence halls, will be open for students who need to remain on campus during the break and remote-instruction period.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University has canceled classes for one week and will switch to online instruction from March 23 until April 28.
“The university will remain open to faculty, staff and students who choose to be on campus,” the school said.
Decisions will be made about holding commencement and final exams in-person in the coming weeks.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is extending students’ spring break but is planning for classes to resume classes on March 23. Student employees are not required to report to work, and grab and go options will be available in the dining hall for students uncomfortable eating there.
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Texas A&M University-Kingsville is extending its spring break to "allow our campus time to assess this rapidly-changing situation," the school's president said. The university, including its residence halls, will remain open during this time and faculty and staff are expected to return to work as previously scheduled, on March 16.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio
Texas A&M University-San Antonio extended its spring break through March 22 and said classes will be delivered online for at least one week after. School officials will determine if remote instruction should continue, and faculty and staff will spend the extended break preparing for it.
The campus will remain open and operating normally. Students who live on campus will still be able to return as planned, according to a press release.
However, the university will also temporarily cancel large gatherings and events, limit university-sponsored travel, and prepare employees for working remotely.
Texas Christian University
Texas Christian University is extending spring break through March 20 and will move to online classes for the two weeks that follow. Students already away from the campus for break have been asked not to return until given further instructions.
Large meetings and on-campus events are canceled through April 3, and university-related international travel and nonessential domestic travel are suspended at least until the end of the month.
“TCU’s highest priority is the health and well-being of our community, and these measures are being put in place to secure that as best we can,” Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. said. “We have a responsibility to each other, our campus and the greater community to help ensure good health, decrease the potential impacts of COVID-19, and to prevent its exposure to vulnerable populations.”
Texas Southern University
Texas Southern University will host classes remotely after spring break ends March 22, according to a tweet from the school. Students are encouraged to stay home, though university housing and dining services will be open, and faculty and staff "are expected to come to work."
Texas State University
Texas State University is extending students’ spring break for one week and moving to remote courses through April 12, though the campuses will remain open during that time. Indoor university-affiliated events that expect more than 200 people in attendance will be canceled through April 12 as well, according to a letter from President Denise Trauth.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University has canceled classes the week after its spring break and said teaching will move online beginning March 30. Campus buildings, including residence halls, will remain open, and students may stay on campus during spring break.
Faculty and staff will be “on duty as usual” but have been directed to consult with supervisors to determine “remote work scenarios in case we need to take more aggressive actions.”
Texas Wesleyan University
Texas Wesleyan University is suspending on-campus classes for a week and then moving to online instruction starting March 23. Faculty and staff — except for student workers — will return to campus the week prior to prepare to teach classes and work remotely, the university said.
Students living on campus are encouraged to go home but can “check-in with their hall staff to make appropriate arrangements,” if needed.
Trinity University is transitioning to remote teaching for the remainder of the spring semester and closing residence halls for the semester beginning Monday. Students will be reimbursed for their housing, the university said. Those who can’t return to a permanent residence can apply for an exemption — through “many on-campus services may be significantly limited.” All university athletics events after March 22 will be canceled for the rest of the semester.
“We believe that making this decision now will provide the most orderly transition and protect our Trinity family from potential exposure to the virus, especially since many of us have traveled far and wide over spring break," a letter from Trinity President Danny J. Anderson said. "Experts tell us that this illness has the potential to spread quickly, and social distancing appears to be one of the most effective ways to slow the virus’s advance,” the letter said.
There are no known cases of the disease at Trinity, in San Antonio.
University of Houston
The University of Houston has canceled classes for the week of March 16 and will begin hosting them remotely starting March 23. Students have been asked to stay home, though university housing and dining services will be “open for student residents who need it.”
“Sanitization and hygiene protocols will be escalated,” the university’s website says. Faculty and staff are permitted to work from home if they are able to perform their jobs remotely.
University of Houston-Clear Lake
The University of Houston-Clear Lake canceled classes the week of March 16 and said the instruction will resume remotely March 23.
University of Houston-Downtown
The University of Houston-Downtown is suspending classes the week of March 16 and moving instruction online for two weeks after.
University of Houston-Victoria
The University of Houston-Victoria canceled all classes and began spring break at noon Thursday. "Decisions about classes after spring break will be made and communicated next week," the university said.
University of North Texas
The University of North Texas will cancel in-person classes for a week "as the university transitions to online or alternative instructional delivery." Classes will resume March 23, and students will learn details about their classes via email by March 19, the university said.
University of North Texas at Dallas
University of North Texas at Dallas is extending its spring break through March 20. Officials will present “the most up to date information” at a town hall on March 17.
University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is extending spring break for students and will then switch to online classes March 23. "The University will conduct instruction via online platforms until further notice. Students should expect to receive information next week from departments and faculty about how to access their courses," the university said.
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is extending students' spring break by one week to allow “faculty and staff members time to prepare to increase ‘social distancing’ on campus.” This could include shifting lectures to online instruction or changing practices in shared spaces like dining halls and libraries to “reduce unnecessary contact and promote better personal hygiene," according to a letter from UT-Austin President Greg Fenves.
Students who want to return to the Austin campus as previously scheduled, on March 23, will be able to do so, and regular services like dining halls will be open.
At least one graduate school at the flagship, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, is expected to move its courses online after the extended break.
The university's home sporting events will also be played without fans in attendance through March 22. Its athletics teams will continue to "travel to road competitions as scheduled at this time," according to its website.
University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas is extending spring break for one week, and shifting to online classes after that, starting March 30.
University of Texas at San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio, which is extending its spring break through the week of March 15, is using the extra time to "prepare its campuses against the threat of coronavirus while ensuring the academic progress of its students,” according to its website. Campuses will remain open during the extended break and after.
When classes resume March 23, they will be taught online until at least April 13.
“During that time, students are encouraged to stay at home if possible,” the website reads. “The university recognizes, however, that campus housing is the home to many students and they are welcome to return.”
The university will also be using “social distancing practices” for gatherings of over 50 people, and individuals are expected to keep a distance of at least three feet and practice good hygiene.
Event organizers will be advised to cancel, postpone or conduct events virtually.
“Our foremost priorities are to sustain the health of our campus community and ensure the academic progress of our students,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “While there is still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, it is expected to spread broadly in the days ahead and we are making these changes now, before we see any impact on our campuses.”
All Wharton County Junior College
All Wharton County Junior College courses will resume online on March 30. The campus will remain closed until further notice.
2020 Texas Tribune