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The University of Texas at Tyler announced today it will go to online-only classes for the rest of the semester in response to new coronavirus pandemic.

University President Michael Tidwell made the announcement in a statement Tuesday that also detailed several other changes the university is making to help prevent possible spread of the virus. 

Commencement, which was originally set for May 2, will be postponed. The committee for commencement, which includes representation from students, faculty and staff, will meet in the coming weeks for a new date.

Read the full statement from Tidwell below.

UT Tyler Community:

I am writing to update you on The University of Texas at Tyler’s response to the threat posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus). This virus has caused universities around the nation to make operational adjustments. The University of Texas at Tyler is no different. We greatly appreciate your continued flexibility, and want to make sure we keep the lines of communication open throughout this rapidly changing situation.

The well-being and safety of our campus community is paramount. We have nearly 10,000 students and 1,000 faculty and staff across our Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston campuses. As a result, it is necessary to take steps to keep our team healthy.

One of the best ways to keep our campus healthy is for individuals with flu-like symptoms to stay away from campus and self-isolate for 14 days. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or you have been in contact with someone with flu-like symptoms, please seek appropriate medical attention. Then let Human Resources know that you are self-isolating.

Thank you for helping us to deliver on our mission and vision during this trying time. As our local environment changes, we are working to change with it. We will emerge from this situation a more agile and knowledgeable organization.

Given Federal recommendations and the thoughtful advice of the UT Tyler leadership team, I have authorized the following campus adjustments:

1. All classes to be held online through the remainder of the semester

To comply with CDC guidance for social distancing, all classes for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester will be held online. College deans, faculty members and support staff are working diligently to transition class materials online. We will accommodate extraordinary cases where online cannot provide the appropriate instructive platform (certain labs, etc.) on a case-by-case basis. Students should contact faculty members for more information. All classes resume online March 23.

2. Commencement will be postponed

The May 2 Commencement ceremony will be postponed. The Commencement Committee, which includes representation from students, faculty and staff, will meet in the coming weeks to determine a new date.

3. Guidance for student workers and grad assistants

We realize that many of our student workers rely on their campus jobs for life necessities. We are working to minimize the negative impacts of social distancing on your employment. If you wish to continue as a student worker this semester, please work with your supervisor to devise a plan to continue working remotely.

If you have a student worker job that cannot be performed remotely, please call Human Resources. They will help you identify a potential alternative opportunity.

Graduate Assistants and Graduate Workers: Our graduate student workers are paid from a variety of funding sources with differing rules guiding those payments. For students who wish to continue working during this period of social distancing, I am instructing supervisors to identify telecommuting work options for those students, where possible. The supervisor must make sure that the work being done is consistent with the rules of the sponsor/funding source, particularly for those projects funded by student fees and outside grants.

4. Last date to withdraw from classes extended

Because of COVID-19 related hardships, we are extending the date to withdraw from a class until April 16.

5. All campus and student services remain open, including counseling services

Library, counseling, tutoring, registrar, food pantry, financial aid and other student and campus services remain open during normal operating hours. When possible, make a phone call or send an e-mail before an in-person visit to promote social distancing. However, if you do need to come to one of our campuses, we’re here to help.

Counseling: During this time of uncertainty, the Student Counseling Center will continue to provide services to our students in need. Students will have in-person and telehealth (phone or video conferencing) options for meeting with their counselors. Appointments may be requested online. Students may also call the office at 903.565.5746 or walk in to UC 3170. A 24/7 Crisis Line is available by calling 903.566.7254.

6. Homecoming, East Texas Research Conference, and all other major events have been cancelled or postponed

Please see our website for the complete list of cancellations or postponements.

7. Athletics season cancelled

Similar to the NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments, the Lone Star Conference athletic season has been cancelled for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. I realize that this comes as a setback for our student-athletes and coaches, but the safety of UT Tyler faculty, staff and students is my singular concern.

8. Cowan Center season postponed

The remainder of this 2019-20 Season of the Cowan Center has been postponed. The Cowan Center is currently working to re-book all postponed events, but no new dates have been set at this time.

9. Self-reporting personal travel

UT Tyler students, faculty and staff are required to report to UT Tyler any personal international travel scheduled or taken within the last 30 days. Personal travel information must be reported as soon as possible using the International Travel Self-Report Form. Supervisors, including advisors, coaches or faculty members, with information regarding a student’s or employee’s international travel are also strongly encouraged to report via the same form.

The Human Resources Director will contact employees with instructions upon notification of personal international travel, and on the date of return indicated in the travel submission. The Vice President for Student Success will contact students in the same manner.

Human Resources has also published additional information for UT Tyler employees in a FAQ on the Coronavirus update page.

In closing, while we cannot presume to know what to expect in the coming days and weeks, we are prayerful for an expeditious return to normal educational operations. You can find more information on the UT Tyler COVID-19 response webpage. This page is updated as the situation develops.

As always, we are grateful for your support, and join with you in prayer for our nation, region and The University of Texas at Tyler.

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