Despite welcoming approximately 50,000 students this fall, the University of Texas (UT) at Austin is seeing a “relatively low” number of COVID-19 cases on-campus after the first week of in-person classes.
The university only reported a total of 179 cases among students, faculty, and staff as of last week despite reopening buildings and residence halls at full capacity.
According to the head of the academic working group for COVID-19 planning at UT, Art Markman, everything is looking “pretty good” so far. He reported that the university has received few reports of COVID-19 spread related to classroom activities or large indoor gatherings.
He also explained that school administrators are closely monitoring students’ health and behavior to see how the semester looks after another week of in-person classes.
“The number of cases on campus is actually on the low to medium end of what the modeling team predicted. And I think that’s in part because we did get a number of students who might have brought COVID-19 to campus to stay home a few extra days,” Markman told Austin American-Statesman.
Below Estimated COVID-19 Cases
Earlier this year, a COVID-19 modeling consortium at UT released a report estimating that there would be between 187 and 236 students infected with COVID-19 on the first day of in-person classes. However, the figure was higher than the recent statistics released by the university.
UT is attributing its relatively low COVID-19 numbers to precautions implemented as students return to campus. Students were required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result and classroom density has been temporarily reduced.
UT spokeswoman Eliska Padilla revealed that nearly 40,000 returning students have submitted negative test results. “Just as we have seen throughout the pandemic, we expect our community will remain committed to good health and safety behaviors on our campus,” she told the Austin-based newspaper.
The university is also encouraging students and employees to wear face coverings on-campus and schedule vaccinations.