Dear UT College of Pharmacy Family,
As The University of Texas at Austin progresses through its extended spring break, I wish to provide an update on the steps the College of Pharmacy and university have taken to help address the COVID-19 crisis in our community.
The university has implemented a dedicated coronavirus update page with timely information regarding actions on campus. In response to the rapidly evolving situation, the university canceled classes and closed operations on March 13. President Fenves has announced that when classes resume on March 30, all students will complete lectures and dry labs remotely online. University housing will be closed except for those students who have nowhere to go.
The university has implemented social distancing efforts that limit opportunities for exposure while still fulfilling core functions. All campus visits are suspended, events at the Frank Erwin Center and Bass Concert Hall are postponed, and university-sponsored travel has been banned.
The College of Pharmacy’s response adheres to the university’s guidelines, and we have implemented a plan to support core operations while maintaining a safe and healthy environment in which to learn, work, and perform research. Although those faculty and staff that can complete their duties by working from home are doing so, it is essential that we continue core operational services in order to ensure the continuity of instruction and research. It is our goal that all Pharm.D. and graduate students be able to complete the spring 2020 semester, but to do so in a modified fashion.
During spring break, access to buildings and facilities in the College of Pharmacy is limited to individuals with keycard access. Those with the ability to work from home are doing so, and individuals whose job functions require them to be on campus have implemented social distancing efforts to limit exposure. Research Day, alumni events, and other meetings and gatherings have been canceled or indefinitely postponed. The college continues to monitor the situation and is diligently crafting clear guidelines for students, faculty, staff, researchers, and postdoctoral fellows.
One of our top priorities is assuring that our P4 student pharmacists are able to graduate at the end of the spring 2020 semester. This is challenging because some healthcare institutions have banned students. Our experiential education leadership team is working tirelessly with pharmacies, hospitals, and health systems to assure that our fourth-year student pharmacists are able to fulfill required practice competencies and graduate while promoting their well-being.
In addition to keeping our campus community safe, I encourage each of you to take steps to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Please stay informed and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pharmacists and technicians are at the front lines of health care and interact with numerous patients every day. That interaction has increased in the last several days as the public responds to uncertainty, and I ask you to keep that in mind as we work together to keep one another safe and well.
M. Lynn Crismon, Pharm.D.
James T. Doluisio Regents Chair and Behrens Centennial Professor