Students at colleges and universities across North Texas can expect to head back to campus at the beginning of the fall semester.
Officials at several universities across the Dallas-Fort Worth area announced Thursday that they expected to be able to reopen their campuses at the end of the summer. Colleges and universities across the country, including in Texas, have been shut down for more than a month in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
On Thursday, Southern Methodist University President R. Gerald Turner announced the university will be open in the fall semester "for on-campus teaching, learning and student living." Turner said a task force is mapping out a plan that will allow the university to reopen while still managing campus density in a way that slows the spread of the disease.
Also on Thursday, University of North Texas President Neal Smatresk said in an email to faculty and staff that the university will resume limited in-person classes over the summer and fully reopen the campus at the beginning of the fall semester. Once the campus reopens, university officials will continue to take precautions to keep the disease from spreading, he said.
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"We are assessing options and precautions for eventually returning to campus for all in-person activities and programs, ranging from lab-based research to general instruction and the undergraduate residential experience," Smatresk said. "Of course, these plans depend on continuing improvement in COVID-19 cases, and guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities to ensure your safety."
Those announcements came the same day that University of Texas System Chancellor James Milliken told the Texas Tribune that it was "pretty clear that we'll be open in the fall."
Likewise, the Tribune reported, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told presidents of all 11 campuses in the system that they will be ready to reopen their campuses and resume sports in the fall.
Baylor University officials announced last month that they intend to resume in-person classes at the beginning of the fall semester, as well.
Colleges and universities statewide have been shut down since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic reached Texas. Since then, colleges have moved their in-person course offerings online, encouraged students to stay off campus and canceled in-person commencement ceremonies. An executive order issued last month by Gov. Greg Abbott required all colleges, universities and schools in the state to remain closed through the end of the semester.