HOUSTON – Texas colleges and universities are finalizing their COVID-19 protection and prevention plans as students and staff get ready to return to campus in the next few weeks.
“The students are worried about their safety and that is our number one concern as well,” said Courtney Crappell, Music Director at the University of Houston. He’s just one of hundreds of faculty members preparing for a new semester under extraordinary circumstances.
With the populations of some of Texas’ largest universities approaching 70,000, it’s a massive undertaking to protect everyone.
The University of Texas, for starters, is asking all students to self-quarantine at home for 14 days before returning to campus. Baylor University is requiring all students to provide a negative COVID test before they are allowed back on campus and Texas A&M says all returning students and faculty must complete COVID-19 certification and training by Tuesday, Aug. 11.
“All students signed an agreement for them to be able to come back to campus saying they were fully aware of our provisions and were willing to follow them,” said Anna Margaret Clyburn, the President of the Student Association at Rice University.
At the University of Houston, only 17% of all registered students are enrolled in a face-to-face class, so no more than 4,500 students will be on campus at any given time, compared to nearly 30,000 last fall.
Dr. Stephen Spann, Dean of the UH Medical School, said student integrity is the core of their return.
“There is an honor system,” he said. “People signed an agreement that if they have an elevated temperature or any of those symptoms, they will not come to campus.”
And if those guidelines aren’t followed?
“There will be a warning, there will be disciplinary actions,” said Dr. Spann.
We’ve put together a guide to the latest COVID-19 updates and protocols from some of our local and state colleges and universities below. If your school is not listed, please let us know and we’ll get that information for you.
Baylor is still planning to begin its fall semester on August 24th with strict guidelines in place, and is planning to end the fall semester the first week of December, which is a couple of weeks earlier than usual.
As part of the “Back with Blinn” program, the college is hosting live Q&A sessions on Instagram (Mondays and Wednesdays at noon) and on Facebook (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm).
University of Houston
Other safety measures UH is implementing for its employees is requiring them to complete COVID training, pass a self-health screening, and get approval from their supervisor before they are allowed to work on campus. You’ll find the university’s COVID guide here.
Houston Baptist University
The fall semester at HBU starts August 24th with a blend of in-person, hybrid, remote and online courses and runs through December 11th.
Houston Community College
Houston Community College’s fall semester will begin August 24th, but all classes will meet remotely for the first six weeks. You can learn about all of the safety measures and protocols in place across campus here: https://www.hccs.edu/.
Summer classes have been all on-line, but when the fall semester begins, Lamar will offer students on-line, in-person, and hybrid class options.
Lone Star College
Lone Star College will begin with online classes and hybrid classes (a combination of online and face to face) on August 24th. You can find all of the college’s COVID-19 safety protocols, including mask requirements and temperature checks, on the its website.
Prairie View A&M
There will be a staggered move-in for new students at Rice this fall. Houston-area students can drop their belongings off beginning August 12th, then return on August 16th. Out-of-town students will start moving in August 15th. Read more about Rice’s COVID plan here.
University of St. Thomas
The Celts will start a new semester on August 24th with what the university president says will be a mix of in-person and online options. There’s also an online guide to COVID-19 prevention for students and faculty.
San Jacinto College
The community college has a comprehensive COVID-19 plan, including a different status levels that correspond to the current state of the pandemic. Right now, the college is operating on Level 3, which is the highest level of precaution.
Southern Methodist University
SMU has outlined it’s plan for maintaining a healthy environment with it’s Mustang Strong: Safe Return to Campus guide.
Stephen F. Austin University
In its “Open SFA: Guide to Fall 2020″, the university is featuring a Lumberjacks Flex plan with a choice of in-person or online classes and living on or off campus.
The University of Texas at Austin
UT Austin has created a comprehensive guide for students, parents, and faculty called Protect Texas Together. It covers everything from health and wellness policies and procedures to academic and athletics plans. There is also a great FAQ with the latest residence and dining hall information.
Texas A&M University
A&M will use contact tracing as part of its strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Returning Aggies will also find dozens of tents set up across campus with tables and wifi where they can practice social distancing while studying.
Texas Christian University
TCU’s COVID-19 guide includes a live chat feature where students can get fast answers to their health questions.
Texas Southern University
According to Texas Southern’s COVID-19 guide, classes will begin on August 19th online and continue that way through at least September 14th.
Texas State University
Like the University of Texas, Texas State is also asking its students to quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus. The university is also offering flexible options for students that includes in-person and online learning to reduce crowding in classrooms.
Texas Tech University
Because students won’t have full access to campus resources, Texas Tech is adjusting its student billing,.including waiving its Online Distance Education fee. And according to Tech’s COVID-19 guide, there will be a limited number of on-campus housing units for students that test positive, or have come in contact with a positive individual, to self-isolate for 14 days.