Spring 2021: Looking ahead to a new semester
The spring semester will look different than a typical in-person semester, with the University continuing primarily remote operations. Here are some of the top stories to look out for in Spring 2021:
The University is currently operating under the Plan B reopening procedures for Spring 2021. The plan limits the number of courses and personnel on campus. UH will offer 18 percent of all courses for the upcoming semester with a face-to-face option. This includes in-person and hybrid classes.
Free COVID-19 testing is expected to become available to students, faculty and staff on Jan. 21.
Partnered with COVID-19 testing company Curative, the University will offer a free, walk-up kiosk on campus where UH community members can receive a PCR saliva swab test with the presentation of their Cougar Card, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
Two COVID-19 vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and another from Moderna, received Emergency Use Authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration last year. Vaccine distribution for frontline healthcare workers began in Texas in mid-December, initiating phase one of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s tiered vaccine allocation plan.
The UH Student Health Center signed up to distribute the vaccine when it becomes available to colleges and universities. But the University still awaits a green light from the Texas Department of State Health Services and has not been given a timeline for approval.
Construction projects are expected to continue “as is” with no changes for Spring 2021, said UH spokesperson Shawn Lindsey. Among the projects? The demolition of the Student Center Satellite to clear space for the new Auxiliary Retail Center.
The announcement comes after the University’s Finance and Administration chief Raymond Bartlett stated in a Board of Regents Meeting in December that UH will be delaying or eliminating construction projects in the upcoming year to mitigate the impact of a $95 million loss in potential revenue in fiscal year 2021.
The University has not made any decisions about whether a spring commencement ceremony will take place in person. Lindsey said administrators hope to have a decision by March “so students can plan accordingly.”
A ceremony for Spring, Summer and Fall 2020 graduates commenced virtually on Dec. 17 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
All spring sports are set to compete as scheduled, Lindsey said. UH volleyball and soccer teams will also compete during the upcoming semester, after all competitions were postponed in August due to COVID-19 concerns.
However, the threat of the coronavirus could cause disruptions like those seen in the fall. UH’s football team had eight games cancelled or postponed throughout the season.
UH Athletics plans to continue daily self-assessments and COVID-19 testing for all athletes competing in sports this spring, as mandated by the American Athletic Conference.
The state will begin its 87th legislative session on Jan. 12. Over 1,200 bills have been filed, with over 100 related to education.
Proposed legislation for higher education covers topics such as the carrying of handguns on college and university campuses, designating on-campus polling locations and including suicide prevention information on students’ identification cards.