University of Texas at San Antonio, Citing Delta, Goes Remote
Citing an increase in the Delta coronavirus variant, the University of Texas at San Antonio announced that students will spend the first three weeks of the fall semester studying primarily in virtual classrooms.
The university of 30,000 students was scheduled to begin its fall semester on August 23 with in-person classes, but city public health officials have raised the risk levels to severe in San Antonio as cases in medical facilities are overcrowded.
“From the very beginning of the pandemic, we have been committed to putting the health and safety of our entire community on campus first,” University President Taylor Eighmy wrote in a statement. Wednesday announcing the change.
The announcement comes as universities across the country – concerned about the spread of the Delta variant – review their plans to reopen. San Antonio appeared to be the first major school to announce a switch to virtual classrooms amid growing concern over whether universities and public schools can keep students safe.
As professors and students on University of Texas campuses have pushed for increased security measures, university leaders are crippled by an executive order issued by Governor Greg Abbott that bans schools, among many other entities, to require vaccines or masks.
Texas averages more than 14,000 new cases a day, more than double the level of just two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. At least 53 Texas hospitals report their intensive care units are at maximum capacity. In San Antonio, cases of the virus have reached levels not seen in months.
Arizona’s three major public universities – Arizona State, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University – announced Wednesday that they are instituting mandatory mask policies, despite a state ban on mask warrants. The daily average of new cases in the state has increased by more than 70% over the past two weeks, reaching 2,450.
Trustees at the University of Arkansas, which has seven campuses, voted Wednesday to require masks in all of its facilities. The ruling follows a ruling by an Arkansas judge last week temporarily blocking the state from enforcing its mask warrant ban. The average number of cases in Arkansas was below 200 from March through early June, but has now risen to more than 2,300.
The University of Texas at San Antonio also announced that it will institute a mandatory coronavirus testing protocol, starting with students moving into dorms, which will open as scheduled from August 16.
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