Oct. 1, 2020
Dear Student Affairs Team,
You did it – you successfully made it through the first five weeks of class! And what a five weeks it has been. Reopening of facilities. Reactivating student engagement activities. Ramping up Proactive Community Testing. Encouraging our students to build community and make friends ... safely. The list goes on.
It’s no longer “unprecedented times,” but our “new normal.” I understand how difficult this shift in our work is for you, on top of what you may be dealing with in your personal life. But what I am seeing and hearing amazes me. Our students, faculty and staff are adapting new routines to the current reality of campus life during the COVID-19 pandemic—and learning to thrive and support each other while doing so. Thank you for being there for your colleagues, students and our campus community.
Each of us continues to be a critical partner in our university’s efforts to slow the spread of this virus as we Protect Texas Together. One way you can support this effort is by participating in on-campus Proactive Community Testing. It’s quick, painless (saliva-based) and convenient. The program has been enhanced so you will not have to take a second test for confirmation if you test positive. Additionally, student participants will be entered to win one of twenty $50 gift cards randomly given away each week. Locations and times are posted weekly on the web and Healthyhorns social media channels. Being tested on campus expedites our ability to contact trace and reduce transmission. For students, the goal is to support them in determining the best place for them to quarantine or to isolate safely.
Also, a flu shot can prevent flu-related complications that divert valuable medical resources needed by those with COVID-19, which has no vaccine. This week, University Health Services began hosting flu shot clinics by appointment only (no walk-ins) at the Texas Union’s Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom. Students, faculty and staff can make an appointment for one of these clinics through Oct. 23. Employees with UT Select health insurance who are working remotely may get their flu vaccine at any participating in-network pharmacy or provider, with zero deductible or co-pay.
Now for some fun! Today I am announcing our Mask Up! Photo Contest — show us how you mask up while you are working at UT Austin, either on campus or remotely! Wearing a recommended protective face mask is just one of the many ways we are committing to Protect Texas Together. Check out the contest guidelines and then enter your photo by Oct. 8. We will enter eligible submissions for a drawing during the Vice President for Student Affairs Office Hours on Oct. 12. The winners will receive a Living the Longhorn Life® prize pack.
Even though our new normal isn’t easy, finding ways to have fun and connect with our colleagues are all part of what makes us a strong team. While we do not know what the days ahead will bring, I do know we have no choice but to keep going. And I know we will. Together, we will make this semester a success, thanks to your patience, spirit and flexibility.
Stay connected, get tested and Hook ‘em!
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students