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UT-Austin will resume classes this fall — but students won’t return to campus after Thanksgiving

University of Texas at Austin students pass by the main building on their way to and from classes.      Tamir Kalifa for The Texas Tribune
University of Texas at Austin students pass by the main building on their way to and from classes. Tamir Kalifa for The Texas Tribune

University of Texas at Austin students will return for fall classes, but their time on campus will be cut short as they will not be allowed to return after the Thanksgiving break, according to an email sent to students from school officials Wednesday.

Reading days and final exams will happen remotely this fall to encourage students to stay home after Thanksgiving.

“We hope to avoid the possibility of students becoming infected during the Thanksgiving break and then spreading the virus to classmates upon their return,” read the email, which was signed by President Gregory Fenves and Jay Hartzell, interim president designate.

When the campus opens in the fall, the school will have its own coronavirus testing material. The university anticipates needing to conduct more than 500 tests a day, according to the email.

The announcement signals the beginning of concrete plans being laid out for UT students who are still wondering what the fall semester will bring during the pandemic. UT System Chancellor J.B. Milliken previously told The Texas Tribune last month that that “most people are now convinced that the question isn’t whether or not [the university will] open in the fall, it’s how we will open in the fall.”

Classes will begin as scheduled Aug. 26. The university is still figuring out how the adjusted schedule will affect course syllabi, dorms and campus events that are normally held after Thanksgiving.

University employees on campus during the summer are required to wear face masks, but the email didn't indicate whether students will have to wear masks in the fall.

The university is postponing an in-person commencement for fall 2020 graduates until some time in 2021. Spring 2020 graduates will also be invited to this commencement. Spring 2020 graduates will be honored Saturday during a virtual commencement ceremony.

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