Friday, December 8, 2023

UTSA provides further updates for fall semester learning and operations

UTSA provides further updates for fall semester learning and operations

JULY 8, 2020Editor’s note: The following message was sent via email today from President Taylor Eighmy, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy, and Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Veronica Salazar Mendez to all students and their families, faculty, and staff: 

We are writing today with some updates regarding our ongoing planning for fall 2020. 

These last few months have been challenging, and we are all concerned that the pandemic situation in San Antonio and in Texas remains very unstable. The health and well-being of our entire community are constantly at the forefront as we develop adaptable plans for the fall semester. Importantly, our plans are designed for flexibility so that all those wishing to learn or work completely remotely this fall will be able to do so. 

Though there are many unknowns about the future, we are certain of this: By bringing our community together this fall—in mostly virtual formats—we are safely fulfilling our promise as an educational institution and an essential service for our students, our city and our state. Indeed, UTSA has been open and operational these past five months with over 600 Roadrunners on campus serving our residential students, conducting essential research and sustaining operations—all with extensive health protocols in place. 

Highlighted below—and detailed to a greater degree on our new Roadrunner Return website—are important guidelines for resuming instruction and student activities at UTSA this fall. All are based on the recommendations put forth in the reports by our tactical teams on Undergraduate and Master’s Education, Advancing Belonging and the Out-of-Classroom Experience, Research Excellence & Doctoral Education, as well as the evolving efforts of our Public Health Task Force

These guidelines are subject to change based on further guidance from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, UT System and public health officials. Some decisions—such as the opening of the Campus Rec Center—require more time and monitoring of the pandemic over the next few weeks. 

Our Approach

Our fall semester is based on flexibility and accessibility

This fall will look different for every student. Most course instruction will be online and delivered asynchronously, while incorporating additional synchronous learning experiences. Students will have the option of living in one of our residence halls or off-campus—whether here in San Antonio or another city. 

These are very personal decisions for our students and families. As such, we are committed to providing flexible options so all students can engage fully with their coursework and student life regardless of their comfort level with in-person activities. Any student who chooses to take all their coursework online will have the ability to do so, since all in-person instruction will have the same content available and accessible online. 

Similarly, we will integrate flexible workplace policies for faculty and staff. Options are being explored so that those who can effectively conduct their work from home can do so. 

Importantly, we are designing the semester for maximum adaptability in the event we need to move all instructional and operational activities online. Our overall goal is to ensure widespread access to a high-quality academic experience for all students, regardless of the unpredictable circumstances ahead. 

Health & Shared Responsibility
  • All Roadrunners must do their part to minimize the spread of the virus.
    We have a shared responsibility to take steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections on our campus. Every member of the Roadrunner community must do their part and abide by the Roadrunner Pact and our Five Principles for public health.

  • All students, staff and faculty will be required to complete a mandatory compliance training prior to returning to campus.
    You will receive more information about the training module when it is released later this summer.

  • Face coverings and social distancing are required in all public and common spaces on UTSA’s campuses.
    We will provide a face covering to every student, staff and faculty member prior to the fall semester.

  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting will take place on campus.
    UTSA’s Public Health Task Force—comprised of scientists, public health experts and external health consultants—developed campus cleaning and disinfection protocols, including daily cleaning and disinfecting of all classrooms, community spaces and high-traffic areas.

  • Instruction will be mostly online and designed to engage students in active learning.
    Combined with creative experiential learning opportunities, our approach will ensure students have an impactful, engaging academic experience this fall. Robust remote teaching resources and services will be provided to faculty by the division of Academic Innovation, in partnership with the colleges, to support high-quality course design and delivery.

  • Face-to-face instruction will be limited.
    Select courses will take place face-to-face based on the need for specialized course material or facilities. Any courses incorporating face-to-face instructional activities will offer parallel online components to be inclusive of all students, regardless of their ability to participate in person.

  • The schedule of classes will be finalized by July 31.
    Our academic colleges are working now to make final decisions on how each class will be delivered. Students will receive regular updates on the schedule of classes and registration processes.

  • After Thanksgiving break all instructional activities will take place exclusively online.
    Classes will begin as scheduled on August 24, 2020. To better protect students and faculty during the holiday travel season, all instructional activities will be conducted online starting after Thanksgiving break and for the remainder of the semester. Final exams will be administered online.

  • We are offering support for international students.
    Relative to this week’s announcement by the Department of Homeland Security, and as a university adopting a hybrid instructional model for fall, staff from the division of Global Initiatives will work individually with international students on F-1 visas to certify their eligibility to continue their studies at UTSA.

  • UTSA Libraries will be open, and student academic support services will be in place.
    UTSA Libraries will undergo a phased reopening process for the benefit of those students on campus, while continuing to offer all their services virtually. Occupancy limits, social distancing and mask protocols will all be in place. Students will continue to have access to our full suite of advising, tutoring and other academic support services.

  • Additional WiFi access will be added.
    WiFi access points are being added across campus to help students be productive.

  • Cost of attendance will remain unchanged.
    Fall tuition rates will remain as published. Some mandatory fees may be adjusted pending final decisions regarding campus services. Learn more about the cost of attendance for this fall.

Residential Living
and Campus Life
  • Residence halls will be open.
    Halls will remain open through the end of the semester for students who want to live on campus. Residents will be grouped into “family units” and encouraged to remain together while dining, studying and socializing, limiting close interactions with outside groups. Students who signed contract addendums for UTSA-owned housing (Alvarez Hall, Chaparral Village and Laurel Village) in June 2020 may make changes without incurring cancelation fees or penalty up until August 3.

  • Outdoor campus spaces will be open.
    Common outdoor areas—like Sombrilla Plaza—will be open for students who want to be on campus with masking and social distancing measures in place.

  • Campus dining venues will be open.
    Dining venues such as the Roadrunner Café and food courts will be open with limited seating capacities for social distancing. New technology will be implemented to reduce contact where possible, including cashless/touchless pay options, mobile ordering and self-checkout.

  • Student Health Services and Counseling & Mental Health Services will be open.
    These offices will continue to offer their services to students this fall via phone and video conference as well as limited in-person visits.

  • Student activities will take place—with modifications.
    Many student activities will be moved to virtual formats this fall. Any in-person gatherings will have extensive safety measures in place, such as attendee limits and clear indicators for social distancing. New virtual programs are being explored for this fall to promote a sense of belonging and Roadrunner identity.

  • On-campus athletics activities will continue.
    We are actively planning for a variety of scenarios regarding our fall sports season at UTSA, and are working with the Alamodome to develop football game-day protocols. Ultimately, sports competitions will be contingent on conference decisions. Regardless of whether or not our student-athletes compete this fall, athletics activities will continue based on the protocols we established this summer.

  • The availability of several campus services is still to be determined.
    Campus transportation services are still being evaluated for the fall semester, as are Campus Rec Center and Student Union operations. Mandatory fees for these services may be adjusted if they are not offered or remain closed. Likewise, parking and the reopening of UTSA’s Child Development Center are still under discussion. Updates regarding these services will be shared on July 28.

  • On-campus research activities will continue.
    On-campus research activities and doctoral training opportunities resumed June 1 and will continue into the fall. Returning to campus is voluntary for graduate students.

  • Undergraduate research will resume.
    Undergraduates supported by federally funded projects may participate in research activities this fall. Others will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

  • On-campus laboratories are open.
    Guidelines for those working in laboratories have been put into place, including social distancing, safety and disinfection protocols, and compliance training.

Upcoming Town Halls

We have set up a series of town halls to highlight these and additional aspects of our fall semester plans. Moderated by Provost Espy, the town halls will feature an update from the Public Health Task Force, brief presentations from the chairs of our two tactical teams, and an overview of the planning process for workplace modality determinations. All town halls will end with a Q&A session with the panelists. They will be recorded so they can be viewed at a later date. The two faculty/staff and students/families town halls will cover the same content.

Faculty/Staff Town Hall #1
Thursday, July 9, 4–5 p.m.

Students/Families Town Hall #1
Tuesday, July 14, 4:30–5:30 p.m.

Faculty/Staff Town Hall #2
Friday, July 10, 12:30–1:30 p.m. 
Students/Families Town Hall #2
Wednesday, July 15, 1–2 p.m.

Next Steps

More detailed information, FAQs and ongoing updates regarding our fall semester planning is available on our Roadrunner Return website. 

You can expect more updates from us in the weeks to come:

  • July 28: Updates on work modality and campus services.
  • July 31: Final course-specific information (modality, location, times) available in ASAP.
  • August 24: Fall semester begins.

We owe a debt of thanks to our tactical teams for their dedication and diligent work in developing guidance that prioritizes exceptional in- and out-of-classroom experiences for our students, while also promoting the safety and well-being of all Roadrunners. 

And, as always, we are grateful to all of you for your support and patience as we continue to develop and adjust our plans in the weeks to come.

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA’s Mission

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.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.