The University of Texas at Austin announced that masks and COVID-19 vaccines will be optional as students begin classes for the fall semester Wednesday. Professors have the option of offering hybrid online and in-person classes for the first few weeks of school, but university officials expect classes to be back at full capacity by September 20.
Students are encouraged to log their symptoms on the Protect Texas Together app and get regular COVID-19 tests through the Proactive Community Test program, but all these efforts are voluntary. University officials have asked all students to get tested by Friday, August 27.
Students living on-campus were required to get a COVID-19 test before arriving for move-in. According to a spokesperson for the University, 5,960 students had already checked in. 51 students contacted the university to delay their move and find a new move-in date, after having isolation periods.
Several online petitions for mask or vaccine mandates have started to gain traction among the UT community. One group posted online about plans to gather in front of the tower on Wednesday, calling for more safety protocols.
UT Austin rolled out a new vaccine campaign on Tuesday, encouraging people to get vaccinated and offering prizes and other incentives for those who have gotten their shots.
On Tuesday, Louisiana State University announced fans would be required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccine or documentation of a negative COVID-19 test to enter their stadium. UT Athletics hasn’t made any announcements about similar protocols.