Message from the President: COVID-19 update for March 13

Dear UT Health San Antonio university community:

As the city, state and country continue preparedness efforts for transmission of COVID-19, our organization will continue to execute a robust Campus Response Plan to sustain our critical mission to serve public health by maintaining quality education programs, providing clinical services for patients, sustaining essential research and supporting continuous operations of all university services during this challenging time.

The Campus Response Plan includes multiple continuity plans that are or will be executed, which impact university operations. Please see the website for more detailed information.

Academic Continuity – Students and Faculty

  • Virtual delivery for didactic coursework (remote instruction) for all students will begin on Monday, March 16, and will continue through the end of the semester. Follow existing class schedules.
  • Clinical-based programs, practicums, and in-lab training/research will continue and each of our five schools will handle individually as the academic programs warrant.
  • Each school has an academic continuity strategy in place. Contact your Vice Dean for Academics with questions:
  • Please remain on alert for specific school announcements related to academic continuity.
  • The university remains open and fully operational, including the Briscoe Library, classrooms, public areas. Large gatherings are disallowed.

Clinical Continuity

  • Clinical operations continue with patients being screened by phone for COVID-19 risk factors prior to scheduling an appointment. All patients will be seen and those who have demonstrated a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission will be treated virtually or in a manner that prevents the potential spread of illness.
  • Patients are asked to limit the number of companions to medical visits to only those who are essential, preferably no more than one.
  • Visitors and vendors are restricted at the cancer center to protect those patients who may be at higher risk.

Business Continuity

  • Special workforce policies are being developed for maximum workplace flexibility, which include the ability to work remotely when and where possible. We understand that not all positions, people or work situations are a good fit for flexible work arrangements. Supporting and maintaining all clinical services for patients and supporting research activities are essential.
  • HR hosted a management webinar today and there is another one scheduled for Monday to review flexible work arrangements.
  • IT Services is extending its hours for support service to help ramp up readiness for academic and workplace flexibility, including the ability to work remotely when possible.

Research Continuity

  • Research continuity is essential, and plans are being finalized currently by the VPR’s office. The ability to maintain continuous and pristine research activity is an essential mission-critical task for our continuity.

Overall Important Guidelines

  • Any and all travel is strongly discouraged.
  • No visitors/guests are allowed at any university location.
  • All members of the UT Health community are discouraged from holding non-essential events, meetings, or activities involving 20 or more people.
  • All tours and events are suspended until further notice.
  • Social distancing is recommended to limit opportunities for transmission.
  • Guidance for preventing the spread of illness remains unchanged.
  • Employees should follow the normal procedures for sick time away from work if you get sick
  • If you get sick, please call your physician.

UT Health San Antonio is setting up video visits to help monitor the health of patients. In coordination with community agencies, UT Health is also working on setting up regional testing sites to include “drive through” testing for health care workers and eventually the community-at-large to help reduce the burden on emergency departments and hospitals. More details are forthcoming.

Returning from Travel

The UT Health San Antonio webpage is updated daily with return-to-campus recommendations and you are encouraged to review the site frequently.

  • Travel to CDC Level 3 countries is prohibited.
  • All non-essential domestic (outside of Texas) and international business travel is prohibited.
  • If a 14-day self-isolation plan is mandated, the organization will utilize any paid time off using sick leave balances first. Emergency leave will be an option for those who have exhausted any sick leave balance, personal time balance, and possibly vacation balances.
  • No new business-related travel requests are being considered until after May 1, 2020.

We must all do what we can to limit the transmission of COVID-19. This is a novel (new) virus and its implications are unknown. The actions we are taking are designed to protect our campus community, our patients and our community. In our role as a nationally leading academic health center, we must set the example and take informed and expertly advised measures to reduce the serious implications of this disease.

With appreciation,

William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP

President and Professor of Medicine

John P. Howe III, M.D., Distinguished Chair in Health Policy

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