UT Tyler’s COVID-19 Health Policies: What You Should Know

Updated: Sep 2

Liz Romo • Staff Writer

illustration of people wearing masks
Image courtesy of FreePik

Just as life seemed to be returning back to normal with Gov. Greg Abbott’s lift of the mask mandate, the emergence of the Delta variant has posed a new problem.


There has been an increase of COVID-19 cases not only within the Tyler area but in all of East Texas.


According to the Northeast Texas Public Health District, the number of hospitalized patients due to COVID-19 in East Texas has increased from less than 100 patients in July to peaking at 319 patients as of Aug. 21


With an increase of COVID-19 cases comes an increase in safety concerns as students and teachers return back on campus. The University of Texas at Tyler has provided various resources and safety precautions to decrease the number of COVID cases in the area.


UT Tyler’s initial effort began with the COVID Educational Course published to every student's Canvas account.


“This course is to ensure that every student is aware of the ongoing need for safety, ways to exercise caution, and resources available to help you cope with the stress of the pandemic,” UT Tyler President Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun stated in the opening message of the course.


Completing the course rewards students with $100, giving an incentive to complete the course while providing information to students in order to create a safe campus environment.


On Aug. 16, the Office of Academic Success released an email saying, “Students are expected to wear face masks covering their nose and mouth in public settings (including classrooms and laboratories). Likewise, stating that UT Tyler patriots will adopt the Honor Code and those feeling ill should stay home and utilize COVID-19 resources.


Though these are not new guidelines, opinions of those directly impacted have begun to surface.


“The more we wear masks, the more we can go back to normal.” said freshman pre-nursing student Daniela Martinez.


Despite the mask expectations, some students choose not to wear them.


“I haven’t worn [a mask] in a year, and [it] doesn’t feel comfortable wearing them,” freshman electrical engineering student Antonio Morelos said. “I’ve only heard [the Delta variant] exists, I’ve not been affected, and don’t really have an opinion. I hope it gets better soon.”


Calhoun sent an email addressing students' concerns regarding the requirement of masks being a violation of Abbott’s executive order, and assured that it was not a violation but “an epitome of our culture -- Patriots protect others.” Calhoun also encouraged the COVID-19 vaccine once again and to utilize the COVID hotline.


As for on-campus measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of every building and additional dispensers where appropriate. Likewise, the One Stop gave out free disposable masks for students to utilize.


Greek life is also contributing to the overall health and safety of campus.


“They were enforcing masks during philanthropy, taking temperatures before going to different rooms, and making us use hand sanitizer when making crafts during philanthropy day,” an anonymous student in the rushing process said.


UT Tyler has numerous resources in play to combat the spread of COVID-19 while staying within the boundaries of what cannot be legally mandated.


Those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, been exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19, visit uttyler.edu/coronavirus/, covid.uttyler.edu or call the COVID Hotline at 903-565-5999.


*In a previous version of this story, we stated that the Office of Student Accessibility and Resources (SARS) issued an email to students that said, “Students are expected to wear face masks covering their nose and mouth in public settings (including classrooms and laboratories). Likewise, stating that UT Tyler patriots will adopt the Honor Code and those feeling ill should stay home and utilize COVID-19 resources." This email was actually sent by the Office of Academic Success.

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