A Message from President Richard C. Benson
The University of Texas at Dallas - Office of the President
January 6, 2022

Dear Comets:

The impact of the coronavirus has been felt in our daily lives for nearly two years. Understandably, we are all weary of its disruptions — everything from family gatherings and airline travel to cultural and sporting events. Once again, we must respond to a wave of infections and hospitalizations in our region.

As you are aware, the omicron variant, while less likely to result in severe illness, is highly contagious. In spite of our best efforts, we anticipate that many of our students, faculty and staff will be affected by this virus.

Given the possibility of widespread absences due to isolation and quarantine measures, we have determined that adjustments to our operations are warranted during the early part of the spring semester.

Following are the updated actions that we will take over the next few weeks.

Instructional Delivery
Classes, as previously announced, will begin Tuesday, Jan. 18 according to the schedule listed in CourseBook. Faculty members who are scheduled to teach in-person courses are now asked to teach online through Friday, Feb. 4. These classes will be taught synchronously online at their designated day and time, and students are expected to attend online at their scheduled class times.

Some instructors may wish to teach in person as well. Those who are interested in classroom teaching, in addition to synchronous online teaching, should consult the appropriate department head or dean. Instructors will notify students if their course has an in-person option. Students in these courses may choose to attend in person or online.

(Faculty please note: To assist instructors with online teaching, Educational Technology Services has made the Rapid Remote Teaching and eLearning Training and Support resources available. Please email [email protected] for technical assistance or training.)

It is our intent that all classes will revert to the assigned teaching modality as listed in CourseBook on Monday, Feb. 7. Once teaching has returned to the modality as planned, students will need to work with their professors to accommodate class absences for health reasons.

The University will continue with its contact-tracing efforts, and faculty members will be notified of students who are confirmed to be in University-mandated quarantine or isolation. Instructors should be mindful that some students’ illnesses might prohibit them from attending even online classes synchronously, so alternative asynchronous access might be needed on a case-by-case basis. For more information, see Syllabus Policies and Procedures through Spring 2022.

New international students must physically arrive on campus in accordance with the start date on their immigration documents and complete all check-in and enrollment requirements required of their immigration status by Wednesday, Feb. 2.

COVID-19 Testing
Given the change in instructional delivery, the University will not conduct random COVID-19 testing at the start of the spring semester. Instead, beginning Monday, Jan. 10, on-campus COVID-19 testing will be available to those who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or are a close contact of a known or presumed COVID-19 case.

Individuals should report their status through the Daily Health Check or self-reporting form. Our COVID-19 teams will contact, screen and schedule everyone who meets the on-campus testing criteria. There will be no walk-up or unscheduled COVID-19 testing in order to maintain appropriate cleaning protocols and social distancing.

On-campus testing is reserved for students living on campus, students attending in-person classes and employees required to work on campus.

Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines
We will continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has shortened the time for isolation and quarantine for those who are asymptomatic or are exposed to COVID-19. The COVID-19 team will work with students, faculty and staff subject to isolation or quarantine to determine when they are eligible to return to campus.

Working Remotely
Staff and faculty who can perform their work remotely are encouraged to do so through Friday, Feb. 4. Please work with your supervisor to determine the needs of your unit during this period. Supervisors are expected to be flexible and allow remote work through Feb. 4, if possible, without compromising operations. Additional information about work and health protocols can be found on the UT Dallas COVID-19 website.

Campus Services
We will make every effort to have on-campus services available to students as usual. This includes access to the Eugene McDermott Library, Student Union, Student Health Center, recreation facilities and on-campus dining. However, due to staffing or public health considerations, hours may change on short notice. Please check the University website or call ahead to ensure that services and facilities are available and open.

These adjustments will help keep our community safe, maintain continuity of learning and position UT Dallas to return to normal operations as soon as possible once the omicron surge has passed.

We strongly encourage everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster, to wear a mask indoors, to avoid gathering in confined spaces and to practice good hygiene.

Members of the campus community are required to participate in the Daily Health Check. This daily screening, coupled with self-reporting of COVID-19 symptoms, helps us monitor the COVID-19 risk level on campus.

Your continued vigilance and consideration are greatly appreciated as we weather this latest surge in the pandemic. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we make these necessary adjustments.

Not for the first or last time, I thank you for being Comets United.

Sincerely,

Richard C. Benson's signature

Dr. Richard C. Benson
President
Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership


The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Rd, Richardson, Texas 75080-3021

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