As we prepare to start the 2022-23 academic year, we know that COVID-19 is still present. However, we’ve also shown that it no longer defines the way we live, learn and engage on the Forty Acres and our other campuses. We are grateful for scientific advances, the most notable of which started hereat UT, that have allowed us to immerse ourselves more safely in an on-campus experience.
The latest spike in COVID-19 has plateaued in Austin and is starting to slowly decline. However, we do expect to continue to have cases, which will be managed through appropriate accommodations. With effective prevention strategies, vaccines and treatments, combined with a less severe variant currently circulating, we look forward to continued in-person engagement throughout the semester. We encourage all members of the UT community to be current on their COVID-19 vaccines and to test prior to the start of the fall semester. Pre-arrival testing can help limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus at the beginning of the term.
As you return, we are committed to ensuring ample COVID-19 resources and information are available:
Protect Texas Together: Protect Texas Together will continue to serve as the hub for all university COVID-19 information.
Accessible Testing: Throughout the fall, the university will continue to make testing accessible by providing rapid antigen self-test kits at distribution sites throughout campus. Staff, faculty and students can receive up to four at a time. You are encouraged to keep a supply of self-test kits in your residence so that you have them available when you need them. Look for the Healthyhorns QR code sticker on the self-test kits provided by the university that links to important information related to testing.
Off-Campus Testing: Staff and faculty members who are symptomatic can test at a local pharmacy or can contact their primary care provider. Self-testing is accurate and encouraged. As a reminder, self-test kits are also available for free through the federal government, and coverage is available under the UT SELECT prescription drug program for FDA-approved COVID-19 self-test kits at no cost to members.
Possible Exposure: The exposure action chartoffers guidance on what to do if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or if you test positive. If you experience symptoms, stay home and isolate and follow the instructions in the chart for symptomatic people.
Although the World Health Organization and the United States have declared monkeypox a health emergency, the disease does not spread easily in casual settings without prolonged close contact, and it is not expected to have the broad community impact associated with COVID-19. UT has a longstanding public health infrastructure and implements mitigation protocols when faced with known or emerging communicable diseases, and we collaborate on strategies needed to reduce the incidence or spread within our population. Monkeypox will be handled as we would most other communicable illnesses with similar modes of transmission. We encourage you to visit University Health Services to learn more about its transmission, symptoms and what you should do if you think you have it.
Our goal as a university is to provide the resources and information necessary to help our community stay healthy and support our students, staff and faculty in achieving their goals. We wish you a successful start to the fall semester.
Terrance Hines, M.D., FAAFP
Executive Director & Chief Medical Officer, University Health Services
Amy Young, M.D. Vice Dean of Professional Practice, Dell Medical School Chief Clinical Officer, UT Health Austin
This communication is from Leadership – Official. View this email online.