UT Dallas Announces Class, Campus Plans for Spring 2021 Semester
Instructional Model Will Be Same as Fall; In-Person Activities To Expand
Registration will begin Monday, Nov. 2, for the spring 2021 semester at The University of Texas at Dallas with a start date of Jan. 19 and greater opportunities for in-person student engagement.
Just like the fall semester, the University will have a hybrid instructional model with five teaching modalities and the asynchronous option for spring 2021. Faculty will be able to choose their modality of instruction, and students will be able to choose the educational experience that best fits their needs — whether living on campus and taking face-to-face, online and hybrid classes, or living off campus or at home and taking all courses online.
New for spring 2021 will be increased opportunities to help students connect face to face in small groups, said Dr. Inga Musselman, UT Dallas provost, vice president for academic affairs and the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair of Academic Leadership.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we want to provide students with course options that provide strong academic content while maintaining a safe environment. However, we understand that our students want more opportunities to engage with their teachers and each other outside of the classroom,” Musselman said.
Because there have been very few COVID cases among faculty, staff and students, and contact tracing in the fall was not linked to classrooms, Musselman said the University will begin expanding in-person activities in the spring to support students’ well-being and their need to develop stronger connections on campus.
“Based on the success we have had in limiting on-campus spread of COVID-19 in the fall, we are confident that we can translate our coronavirus safety measures to extracurricular spaces so that our students can further engage faculty, staff and each other,” Musselman said.
Dr. Gene Fitch Jr., vice president for student affairs, said seeing friends and meeting new people is part of the college experience, but it becomes challenging when classes are held remotely and students are asked to stay socially distanced.
“Now more than ever we need to pay attention to the health and well-being of our students. We are asking them to limit their social contact at a time when they need it most in their development,” Fitch said. “We hope by providing more opportunities for student engagement, we can fulfill one of those basic needs.”
Dr. Jessica Murphy, dean of undergraduate education and professor of literary studies, said students miss connecting in person in the classroom and in study groups.
“Students are keeping pace with their classes online, but many are missing that personal engagement with faculty and their peers. Some may feel isolated as they study alone from their residence halls or homes. We encourage students to continue to find ways to connect with each other virtually, but we also hope small-group opportunities on campus will ease their sense of loneliness and help them connect safely and in person,” said Murphy, who is also the Mary McDermott Cook Chair for Undergraduate Education.
“Based on the success we have had in limiting on-campus spread of COVID-19 in the fall, we are confident that we can translate our coronavirus safety measures to extracurricular spaces so that our students can further engage faculty, staff and each other.”
Dr. Inga Musselman, UT Dallas provost
Dr. Juan González, dean of graduate education, said that graduate students have been connecting from all around the world and need to feel a greater sense of belonging while at UT Dallas.
“While we have been working hard to provide a sense of community with workshops and webinars, the students miss interacting with their peers and faculty. We need to find innovative ways to provide that spirit that comes from attending an institution of higher learning,” said González, who holds the Francis S. Johnson Chair for Graduate Education.
The University will continue to support the safety and well-being of the campus through routine sanitizing, educating the campus community and posting signage that provides guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks, said Dr. Calvin Jamison, vice president for facilities and economic development.
“We were able to strategically create a safe, healthy and friendly campus with a COVID-19-repellent culture. We learned a lot in the fall. This spring we will scale our activity based on enrollment, encouraging our students to take even greater advantage of the campus experience,” Jamison said. “We appreciate the efforts of our entire campus community to abide by the protocols, thus keeping our campus safe and our numbers down, a model for many in higher education.”
Residence halls will be open, and dining options will continue to be operational this spring, as will a variety of student services and amenities, including recreation/fitness facilities, and health and counseling services. A new Taco Bell Cantina has opened in Parking Structure 3, and the new Sciences Building includes a grab-and-go convenience store.
In-person classes and labs will continue with safety considerations to allow students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. In keeping with health and safety guidelines, UT Dallas again plans to modify a number of practices and activities to mitigate risks, including:
- Faculty, staff and students will be required to wear a mask or face covering in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
- Seating capacity for classrooms and common areas has been reduced to conform to social distancing guidelines.
- Facilities Management will sanitize classrooms regularly.
- Bus passengers will be required to wear a mask or face covering before entering the bus, and each bus will be emptied and sanitized upon completion of one route cycle.
- Hand-sanitizer stations have been installed across campus, including in residence halls and high-traffic areas of other buildings.
- Signage is strategically located throughout campus to remind Comets of the importance of hand-sanitizing and social distancing.
- Starship Technologies robots will be available to provide contact-free meal deliveries on campus.
- The Comets United campaign will continue to encourage all Comets to help one another keep UT Dallas and each other safe and healthy.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].