Monitoring the Coronavirus: President’s Message
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 3:30 p.m.
Subject: March 17 President’s Message | Remote Learning Exclusively
Read the Spanish Translation
Dear Austin College Students, Families, Faculty, Staff, and Community,
As we all know, the COVID-19 national and global health crisis has been evolving rapidly. In the last 24 hours, the Federal Government has issued new and more restrictive recommendations concerning school closures, social gatherings, and travel. Across the country, more and more states, cities, and communities are implementing additional restrictions of their own. These actions are in response to public health officials now making it clear that the current rate of transmission of COVID-19 in the United States creates a serious risk that the national health system will be unable to treat properly those who become infected and require hospitalization. We know that we as a nation and college community must take the steps the experts tell us will slow the rate of virus transmission.
It is evident that colleges and universities have an obligation to make difficult decisions and take significant steps. We have been called upon to take actions that support the national effort to slow the rate of virus transmission and increase the likelihood that our country can properly take care of those who become infected.
Recognizing this national call to action, and despite no known cases of COVID-19 in our community to date, Austin College will suspend face-to-face instruction and use remote-only teaching beginning March 23 through April 10.
As the situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the possibility of resuming some in-person classes, or to remain remote-only for the rest of the semester. Prior to April 10, you will receive an update on the possibility of completing some classes in person. By addressing this incrementally, Austin College can respond in real-time to evolving circumstances.
- All classes will resume on Monday, March 23, on regular schedules for remote-only learning.
- Professors will contact students directly for remote access instructions for each class. The Elective Remote Access form is no longer required, as all courses will be taught by remote platform. For questions about technology, contact the Help Desk by email or phone 903.813.2063.
- The campus remains open with well-resourced accommodations and technology for students desiring to remain on campus. Social distancing continues to be a valid strategy to flatten the curve of infection and is respected across campus.
- Students desiring to return to live on campus must register to return with the Student Life office using this email email@example.com.
- Students desiring to return to campus to collect belongings should contact the Student Life Office by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Individual check-out times will begin Wednesday, March 18, and continue through Sunday, March 22. To maximize social distancing protocols, appointments will be staggered throughout the day.
- To ensure the well-being of our community, individuals returning from COVID-19 Level 1, 2, or 3 areas are required to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus. Anyone who suspects they may have contracted COVID-19 or exposed to the coronavirus should follow the CDC protocols for care including contacting a primary physician to coordinate testing in accordance with the city/county health departments. It is very important to not travel until cleared by a physician.
- We are cancelling all in-person campus visits through April 10 or until the CDC allows. We are offering weekly live virtual visits for prospective students and their families to explore our campus remotely. Our admission staff is here to support all students and families through the college admission process and is responding to emails, phone calls, and texts.
- Per CDC advisories, all gatherings (sponsored lectures, workshops, performances, student activities and events, ACSC, and Honors Convocation) are suspended through the end of the semester.
- Alumni events, both on and off campus, are suspended.
- End-of-year celebrations like Baccalaureate and Commencement will be planned as we move toward those events in May. This will allow time to make informed decisions based upon real-time information.
- Austin College offices will be staffed and remain open with regular business hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.).
- Please direct inquiries to email@example.com.
Many of you have asked why we are keeping the campus open at all. These are turbulent times, and for many students a remote-learning environment at home is simply not feasible. Without returning to campus, these individuals risk not being able to succeed. I want to underscore our commitment to each and every student to have the opportunity to complete this semester. While no cases are evident to date, we are in continuous contact with local, regional, and state health officials. Should it become necessary, our quarantine facilities have 24/7 access to information technology demands for continued learning.
Ultimately, although classrooms will not be active for in-person teaching right now, keeping residence halls, dining services, and campus operations open provides a safety net to give our students the best opportunity for positive learning outcomes.
Finally, I ask for your patience during these evolving and fluid days. Not all decisions have been made regarding this crisis and its impact on our community. Rest assured the Austin College staff, faculty, and administration have been focused on ensuring that all students will have the opportunity to complete the semester.
We will continue to monitor closely and be in communication. Check the Austin College website frequently for updates.
We will get through this.
Steven P. O’Day, J.D.
Austin College President