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Here's What North Texas Colleges Are Doing To Slow COVID Spread

Patrish Jackson

While North Texas universities aren't requiring vaccines at the moment, some are mandating masks indoors and giving students the option to report whether or not they’ve received the vaccine.

Some schools, like University of Texas at Arlington, are taking extra measures by reducing class sizes by 50% in the first few weeks.

“A student for a particular class, they may have one day where they attend that class in person. And then the other half of the class will attend to take the course simultaneously, online, and then they swap throughout the week,” said university spokesperson Joe Carpenter.

Texas Woman's University and University of Texas at Dallas will also limit class sizes.

UT Arlington will mandate COVID-19 testing within the first two weeks of classes. The administration says all students, faculty and staff will be tested by Sept. 8.

“We know that you can be vaccinated, and you could still be a carrier. So this is our opportunity to see exactly where to get a snapshot of the health of our campus population,” Carpenter added.

Most college and university campuses in North Texas are providing students with free vaccines and testing, and using that data to conduct contact tracing.

Here’s a breakdown of their protocols and policies for Fall 2021:

Baylor University

Baylor, a private institution, is requiring testing for all unvaccinated students and students who are not exempt from the vaccine. Masks are required in some indoor facilities, like labs and classrooms, and instruction will take place at normal capacity.

Dallas College

Dallas College will also require masks for all employees, visitors and students while resuming classes at normal capacity. Vaccines and testing are not required, but highly encouraged, free and available on campus.

Southern Methodist University

At SMU, which is also a private institution, masks will be required indoors as the school transitions back to normal instruction. SMU officials say they will encourage students and staff to wear masks outdoors, and get vaccines and testing — but the university won't make it a requirement. Results from COVID tests will be used to conduct contact tracing efforts on campus.

Texas Christian University

TCU, a private institution, will require masks indoors. Vaccines and tests will be offered for free to students, faculty and staff.

Texas Woman's University

TWU will encourage masks, vaccines and testing, but will not require it. Results from voluntary COVID tests will be used to conduct contact tracing for now. The school is still considering a requirement that unvaccinated students be tested weekly. Instructors have the option to reduce classroom sizes for the first few weeks of instruction.

University of Texas at Arlington

UT Arlington will limit class sizes to 50% capacity or less, while recording or live streaming all lectures until Sept. 8. Vaccines, testing and masks are all encouraged, but not required.

University of Texas at Dallas

Students, faculty and staff will not be required to wear masks at the University of Dallas at Texas, and classrooms will have reduced density. Students will also be required to undergo daily health screenings. The school is not requiring vaccines, but students are being encouraged to get them.

University of Texas at Tyler

UT Tyler will operate at 75% indoor capacity. The school will not require masks, testing or vaccines but all three are encouraged and available on campus.

University of Dallas

The University of Dallas will require masks in class for the first few weeks, but will not require vaccines or testing.

University of North Texas

UNT will conduct mandatory testing in intervals, while offering and encouraging vaccines. Masks will not be required.

Got a tip? Email Haya Panjwani at Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw.

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Corrected: August 20, 2021 at 11:11 AM CDT
A previous version of this story said that UT Dallas students will be required to wear masks.
Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter for KUT. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.