Dear College of Fine Arts Community,
I hope this message finds you all well and that you’ve had some well-deserved time to rest over the winter break. As we embark on a new year, I’m so grateful to all of you for your hard work and dedication to supporting our educational mission in a year full of unexpected twists and turns.
By now, you should have received the president’s message that we will be gradually returning to campus this month, and we are asking faculty to teach remotely for the first two weeks of classes. I wanted to follow up with some updates that will be especially relevant for our Fine Arts community.
While omicron has presented yet another curveball in this pandemic, we are better positioned than ever to face this challenge. I’m grateful for the steps the university is taking to protect our UT community, and I’m confident in our community’s ability to pivot in the short term to return to more in-person activities in the coming weeks.
CAMPUS IS OPEN, BUT WE’RE REDUCING DENSITY
Per the president’s directive, we will be working to reduce density levels to the minimum level of staffing needed. Many staff members are working remotely through January, if their jobs allow, but some staff will need to continue to work onsite. I’ve given department chairs and directors discretion to determine which positions will need to report in-person for operations to continue, and some units are continuing to operate with public performances or with exhibition installations. Our UTeach Fine Arts student teachers are out in the field and teaching in-person already this spring.
Students, you will be hearing from your faculty members soon about how remote instruction will be handled for your courses, rehearsals, etc. Please keep an eye on email and Canvas for these updates.
While on-campus staffing will be reduced, campus remains open. Below are some updates on what you can expect for buildings in the Fine Arts campus through January.
- DFA: Construction continues on the walkway outside the main (celebrated) entrance to Doty Fine Arts Building. Our main entrance with the card reader is open, but you’ll need to detour around the bridge walkway to access it. The fourth floor of DFA will not be accessible in January while the Fine Arts Library is closed
- WIN and LTH: The Winship Building and Lab Theatre are closed to the public but are accessible via BACS at the main (celebrated) entrances for department faculty, staff and students. Reservations for classrooms and studios are currently not being accepted. A limited number of staff will be on site to support courses being taught in dual mode, if applicable. Spaces will likewise be monitored and supervised for rehearsal purposes.
- ART: The Art Building Art building is open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the next two weeks. Faculty and staff may enter the building with their access badge at any time.
- MRH: Building is open for students who need to access practice rooms, but faculty and students won’t be able to reserve classrooms or performance halls.
- AHG: Anna Hiss Gymnasium remains open normal hours, with normal swipe access to various spaces.
- VAC: The Visual Arts Center is closed to install spring exhibitions, which will open Jan. 28.
- PAC: Texas Performing Arts is open and operating, with restricted backstage access during visiting productions. Administrative offices are at reduced capacity during construction work for an air handler unit replacement
- Landmarks: The Bridgeway Building, where the administrative offices of Landmarks is located, will be card-access only through January. However, most of Landmarks works remain accessible to visitors on campus
- FAL: The Fine Arts Library will be closed through Jan. 31, but materials can be requested for pickup at the PCL.
POP-UP TESTING SITE IN DFA
At this time, the DFA pop-up testing site opening will align with the return to campus dates, which, as of today, is Jan. 31, 2022. In the meantime, students, faculty and staff may participate in walk-up or appointment-based testing on campus. The most up-to-date schedule is on the UHS Proactive Community Testing Site here
FACULTY AND TEACHING RESOURCES
Assistant Dean for Instructional Continuity and Innovation Julie Schell will be following up with faculty, TAs and AIs to provide resources as they prepare to transition to remote (or hybrid dual-mode instruction if necessary) for first two weeks of classes, with tailored resources for new faculty.
IT STAFFING CHALLENGES AND GUIDANCE
We continue to experience staffing shortages and hiring challenges in Fine Arts IT. Please know that this is a top priority for us to address, and we are doing everything we can to fill these much-needed vacancies as quickly as we can. In the meantime, we ask for your patience.
For computer support with your UT computer, please call 512-475-9400. For classroom technology assistance, please call the classroom hotline at 512-232-4400.
GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY RESOURCES
Vaccines and boosters are our best tool to prevent severe illness from COVID, and we encourage you to please get vaccinated and boosted, if you haven’t already done so. We also strongly encourage you to wear a mask
when you are in our buildings.
We expect an uptick of cases in our community. UT has provided guidance
on what to do if you test positive or have been exposed to COVID. If you are a student and receive a positive COVID-19 test at any facility that is not University Health Services or UT Health Austin, please report your test result to the Behavior Concerns and COVID-19 Advice
Line (BCCAL) at 512-232-5050 or via their self-report form
. If you are a faculty or staff member and test positive, please report your test result to Occupational Health Program (OHP).
We want to discourage students from congregating too densely in hallways in our buildings. Some possible spaces where students can work or learn with room to spread out include the PCL Library and the Kendra Scott Center on the first floor of DFA.While this wasn’t how any of us hoped to begin the spring semester, we are doing our best to keep our community safe and healthy. Please continue to check in with your COFA and departmental communities about their health and well-being. Hang in there, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus very soon.