UT Arlington prepares for students returning to campus with new safety measures

UT Arlington students have a four-day move-in schedule before class starts Aug. 26.

The university is doing a hybrid-style instruction for the fall. It held a listening session for students and parents on Tuesday about the changes they'll see on campus.

UT Arlington has made a lot of changes on campus ahead of students returning. The university has even dedicated one dorm for isolation if a student is infected with COVID-19.

In a few weeks, students will return to UTA. About 3,000 students live on campus, and many more will be headed back and forth to class.

“There's a lot of little backend things that we had to do. Things that you don’t think about normally,” said UTA Interim Provost Dr. Pranesh Aswath. “You start thinking what all do you touch when you go in.”

During the summer, UTA developed a task force for student safety. Masks are mandatory inside buildings, water fountains aren't available and buffet-style dining is out.

“We reconfigured our AC systems,” Dr. Aswath said. “Traditionally, you will recirculate air because you want a higher efficiency. We realize we don't want to mix air in these classrooms. So now, we are doing it at a single pass.”

Parents and students participated in an online education session Tuesday about what to expect. The university is offering a hybrid of in-person and online courses.

“Many of the students wanted the classroom experience,” Dr. Aswath said. “What we did, in this case, if it’s a class that meets Monday, Wednesday, Friday, one third comes on Monday, one third comes on Wednesday and one third comes on Friday. So everyone gets the face time with the faculty.”

Students are encouraged to reduce social activities for two weeks before they return to the campus. and

Measures are in place for students who test positive.

“We have actually set aside one complete dorm as an isolation dorm,” Dr. Aswath said. “In the situation that a student is sick, this could be an international student that can’t go back home, we need to have a place for them to self-isolate. So we have taken care of that.”

The provost says athletes and coaches will be tested constantly. He says other students can get a test on campus if they have symptoms or think they may be infected.