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President Eighmy provides update on coronavirus preparedness plans

President Eighmy provides update on coronavirus preparedness plans

MARCH 9, 2020Editor’s note: The following message was sent via email today from President Taylor Eighmy to all faculty, staff and students:

I am writing to update you regarding UTSA’s preparedness plans in light of the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation.

General Coordination

We are continuing to coordinate on a daily basis with San Antonio Metro Health and Texas Department of State Health Services. In addition, we are following guideline documentation provided by the American College Health Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UT System, and are in routine direct communication with experts at UT Health San Antonio.

Our coordination efforts are multifaceted, and include travel advisories, best practices for hygiene and self-isolation, continuity of academics and operations, institutional coordination and preparation in the event that the coronavirus spreads to San Antonio. In this eventuality, local health authorities may assume more direct management of the situation.

Returning after Spring Break

As of today, we expect normal business operations to continue at UTSA through spring break and beyond. However, given the rapidly evolving nature of the situation, I ask Roadrunners who are traveling over the break to be mindful of the following: 

  • If you start to experience flu-like symptoms during (or upon returning) from your travels, please seek a medical consult immediately. Avoid returning to campus. Contact your primary care physician, UTSA Student Health Services or San Antonio Metro Health for a medical evaluation.
  • UTSA students, faculty or staff currently overseas should continue to work closely with our Office of Global Initiatives to coordinate any travel plans or support needed.

Good Hygiene and Social Distancing

To protect yourself and those around you, we must all do our part:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Refrain from attending large public gatherings.
  • Use hand sanitizer and surface wipes liberally, taking advantage of stations placed around UTSA’s campuses.

UTSA Planning Update

The fluidity of the coronavirus situation requires extensive proactive planning around campus operations and academic provisioning, which is fully underway.

In collaboration with key areas on campus, the Office of Risk and Emergency Management has developed a university plan that outlines protocols for readiness, response levels and decision making, as well as preparedness and guidance for faculty, staff, students and departments. Our planning encompasses a number of potential scenarios, including changes in classroom and meetings use, scaled-back operations and the possibility of a transition to online learning or temporary closure should local conditions escalate.

Two weeks ago Provost Espy began working with the academic deans to initiate development of their college-specific academic continuity plans. Last week deans were provided with materials to assist with their planning, and all faculty were provided information and resources regarding specific procedures in the event alternate instruction approaches become necessary.

Central to this work is the support of online technologies to enable continued learning and instruction, spearheaded by our Academic Innovation and University Technology Solutions units. This week we will host a series of instructional continuity webinars to help faculty prepare specific plans for their classes. Faculty should consult with their chairs and college leadership on any questions.

Our heightened approval processes for foreign travel are in place, and we will continue to carefully monitor developments in the U.S. in the event that domestic travel to particular locations becomes a concern. Furthermore, we are continuing to communicate and work closely with our students and faculty who have returned from Italy under self-isolation protocols. 

Although there is no direct coronavirus-related risk to our community at this time, feelings of stress and anxiety are natural during periods of uncertainty. Our Counseling and Mental Health Services team have provided some tips and recommendations for managing distress that you may find helpful in the weeks to come. 

As the situation nationally and in Texas continues to develop, my leadership team is committed to keeping you updated with any changes that could impact UTSA. We will do everything we can to ensure our campuses remain safe and healthy places to live, work and learn. Be sure to refer to our coronavirus website for updates, best practices for good hygiene and additional resources.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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