Office of the Provost
1201 West University Dr.
ESSBL - Executive Tower 5.101
Edinburg, TX 78539
Phone: (956) 665-2111
2021 Fall Semester Update - August 13, 2021
Dear UTRGV family:
Like you, we have been anticipating the Fall 2021 Semester for many months. However, the rise of the delta variant statewide and in our region is a reminder that this pandemic is not over. And while the resurgence of COVID-19 seemingly threatens our progress, please know that we continue to monitor the situation daily and that we’ve been preparing for this.
That’s why at this time, based on the most current guidance from medical experts, we are encouraging flexibility in our traditional and hybrid course offerings.
What does this mean? Courses listed in the traditional (face-to-face) modality may elect to incorporate a hybrid (face-to-face and online) modality.
We hope that this flexibility will help to reduce our on-campus population, as we continue to monitor this current wave in COVID-19 cases.
How does this affect me?
STUDENTS: If you had previously enrolled in a traditional class, your professor may elect to use a mix of online and face to face. Specifics will be communicated to you by your professor.
FACULTY: Should you elect to incorporate a mix of face to face and online, you do not need to submit a course schedule change request (CSCR) to change the modality. If you choose to offer your classes in a hybrid modality, you can offer up to 84% of class meetings online, with the remaining 16% offered in a face-to-face format. This provides you the flexibility to determine when it will be necessary for students to be on campus based on individual course requirements and needs.
STAFF: Many of you have already safely and successfully returned to campus, and further reducing our on-campus population serves as another safety precaution.
For those staff members who have not returned to campus, please know that it is still safe to do so. Please continue working with your division leads and supervisors to determine when and how you return to campus. All employees will have access to their offices, but we ask that you closely follow safety protocols in accessing them.
If you have any concerns or questions, please work directly with your supervisor or contact the Office of Human Resources at email@example.com.
Protect Yourself & Respect Others
We are doing everything we can to ensure you have the safest and most successful UTRGV experience possible — but we need your help. As you know, there are currently no local, state, or national COVID-19 health mandates that enable us to require UTRGV community members to wear face coverings, practice social distancing, or get vaccinated. Because of these limitations, it is more critical than ever that your choices pertaining to interacting, learning, and working on campus are informed by these proven and effective best-mitigation practices.
The safest and most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated. To do this, please log on to the UTRGV Vaccine portal and schedule an appointment or simply walk into our student and/or employee health clinics in Brownsville, Edinburg, or Harlingen.
To further encourage the wearing of face coverings and getting vaccinated, we will be handing out FREE masks and hosting vaccinations stations on our Brownsville and Edinburg campuses during the first week of classes.
High Vaccination Rates
The Rio Grande Valley continues to lead ;the way in vaccinations ;and has seen great increases in fully vaccinated individuals. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the Valley, when compared to the state’s major cities, has the most vaccinated people aged 12 and up. For more on these remarkable numbers, visit the DSHS COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard.
As for the UTRGV campus community, we continue to have more employees and students self-report their vaccination status using the voluntary and secure Vaccine Portal. Here are the latest figures as of Friday, Aug. 13:
- Of the 5,176 current employees, 3,401 have completed the portal. Of those 3,401, 89 percent (3,033) have self-reported that they are vaccinated.
- Of the 32,223 currently enrolled students, 24,501 have completed the portal. Of those 24,501, 83 percent (20,255) have self-reported that they are vaccinated.
The surge of the delta variant has also increased the demand for COVID-19 testing. UT Health RGV continues to provide testing for the campus community.
If you need a test, or if you know of a student or coworker who needs a test, it is imperative that you begin the process by filling out the Preliminary COVID-19 Screening form .
Filling out the form alerts our COVID-19 Response Team, which was created last year to help UTRGV better assess and manage COVID-19 cases on campus.
Once a person fills out the form, the team will provide guidance for the testing process and will manage your case throughout. If the test returns a positive result, the team will provide recovery guidance for the infected individual and conduct contact tracing to ensure that those who may have been in contact with the person are contacted and properly advised, based on CDC guidance.
Stay Safe and Stay Engaged
As we transition into the Fall 2021 semester, rest assured that your safety and success remain our top priorities.
We will continue to send you timely communications regarding our Fall operations, especially as we track the delta variant. For the latest and most accurate information about everything related to Fall at UTRGV, please visit www.utrgv.edu/welcomeback.
We look forward to your return to campus soon.
Dr. Janna Arney
Deputy President and Interim Provos
Frequently Asked Questions
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section is currently being populated on the Welcome Back website. If you have a FAQ that you would like to submit, email it to WelcomeBack@utrgv.edu , and we will work to answer it as best we can. As you know, this is an ever-changing situation, so as information becomes available so will answers to our questions.
In the meantime, we have compiled some of the most popular FAQs from faculty and staff below. Again, please visit the Welcome Back website for additional FAQs , which will be expanded and updated throughout the semester.
As always, thank you for your hard work and dedication to our students. We will continue to work diligently to keep you informed and prepared to help ensure that you experience a safe and successful fall semester.
Dr. Janna Arney, Deputy President and Interim Provost
Dr. Michael Hocker, Dean, School of Medicine
How does a county face-covering mandate affect UTRGV?
We are aware that one of the counties we serve has issued a face-covering mandate. Like other state government agencies, University of Texas institutions are required to comply with the Governor’s order and cannot compel individuals to wear masks in state-owned facilities.
That said, UTRGV and UT Health RGV will continue to strongly encourage all students, faculty, and staff to comply with these proven mitigation strategies, including getting vaccinated and wearing face coverings.
During the first week of class, UTRGV and UT Health RGV will host vaccination stations and distribute FREE face coverings on both the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses.
W hat flexibility do I have for offering my face-to-face course ?
For fall semester faculty have the option of offering their scheduled face-to-face courses in a hybrid modality, reducing the amount of time spent in the physical classroom with students. Faculty who choose to offer their classes in a hybrid mode can offer up to 84% of their class meetings online, with the remaining 16% offered in a face-to-face format. This provides faculty the flexibility to determine when it will be necessary for students to be on campus based on individual course requirements and needs. This semester, faculty may switch to hybrid course delivery without submitting a form to change modality.
Can I move my face-to-face or hybrid course entirely online?
Starting in Spring 2020, colleges and universities received waivers to offer all courses/programs online during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. At this time, the waivers we had to offer everything online have expired and cannot be renewed, so it is not possible to switch courses not already scheduled to be offered in an online format. State and federal reporting requirements limit the percentage of a program we can offer online without notifying external agencies and/or seeking approval. This fall we are working with each college to determine how many courses in each program were previously offered online and to track which programs will require reporting before we can increase the number of courses we offer online.
Am I required to hold face-to-face office hours?
UTRGV’s Handbook of Operating Procedures ADM 06-106 Faculty Rights and Responsibilities requires that faculty be accessible to students outside the classroom and that their teaching schedule and office hours be posted outside their offices and/or in the Learning Management System and in the department office. Faculty members must be available to students during the posted office hours, but there is no requirement that faculty be available in the office. You can choose to hold your posted office hours online via Zoom or other technology as long as you ensure that students have access to you during those hours. If you choose to hold office hours virtually, you should include that information in your syllabus.
What is UTRGV doing to help ensure that face-to-face classes are safe?
Unlike this past year, there are no local, state or federal health mandates that the university can enforce, but we are strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to follow these Campus Protocols that are proven to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, including the delta variant.
Following these protocols are your best defense regardless of what those around you, including colleagues and students, choose to do.
Additionally, UTRGV will continue to:
- Provide vaccines at all employee and student health locations.
- Provide COVID-19 testing at all employee and student health locations.
- Stock high-traffic buildings with hand sanitizer and sanitation wipe stations.
- Conduct daily enhanced cleaning of high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces.
- Modify and/or upgrade all UTRGV buildings, based on ASHRAE COVID-19 Building Readiness and Reopening Guidelines, to address the potential for aerosol dispersion by HVAC systems.
Will I be informed when someone on campus tests positive for COVID-19?
Consistent with UTRGV protocols and federal privacy laws, anyone identified within our university community as being at risk of exposure from those who have tested positive will be notified by our COVID-19 Response Team and will be instructed to be isolated or tested.
The COVID-19 Response Team is responsible for identifying and contacting others who may have been at risk. In addition, areas of exposure are thoroughly disinfected and cleaned as needed.
In addition, UTRGV is providing weekly updates of confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus/off-campus facilities on thi webpage.