Just over a month into the fall semester, the University of Texas at Austin announced that it plans to structure the spring semester "in much the same way," according to a community-wide email sent by President Jay Hartzell.
Hartzell commended students for the adjustments they've made, which he said have helped to keep the university's COVID-19 numbers "as low as possible" and have been "largely effective" at containing the disease.
Since the current semester began on Aug. 26, the university has reported 754 cases among students and 11 among faculty and staff. Hartzell said this falls "within the range of what we had expected given UT's size" in his email.
UT Austin has a total enrollment of more than 50,000 students. Researchers at the university's COVID-19 Modeling Consortium have assumed that around around 22,000 of them either live in Austin or have returned to the city for the fall semester.
The administration announced plans in August to test 5,000 asymptomatic community members a week. But it has fallen short of that goal, testing fewer than 2,000 a week since classes began.
The university's faculty council said in a recent update that it had not been able to meet the 5,000-mark because of federal and state health information laws that prevent mandatory testing.
"The answer, in part, is that we have fewer than 5,000 people a week who have been willing to take the tests," the council wrote.
Hartzell said the university is working out "some kinks" in its proactive community testing program to try to expand its scope, including not requiring a second confirmatory test for students' whose rapid tests returned positive results, allowing for walk-up testing that does not require an appointment and debuting a new incentive program, details for which are forthcoming.
UT Austin has faced criticism from students, staff, the campus newspaper and others for its reopening plans.
Before the fall semester began, members of the Texas State Employees Union presented a petition to the UT System calling for the cancelation of in-person classes, tuition cuts and hazard pay for essential workers.
Two days before classes resumed, a photo of sorority pledges gathering—unmasked and in dense groups—in West Campus prompted blowback on social media. Reports of off-campus parties led Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott to warn Greek life organizations that such behavior could lead to criminal charges.
Earlier this month, Austinites raised concerns about the risk of transmission at football games.
At the Texas Longhorns' first home game of the season, the university required student attendees—but not others—to be tested for COVID prior to entering the stadium. Of the 1,198 students tested, 95 received positive results. This positivity rate, of nearly 8%, exceeded the local positivity rate reported by Austin Public Health and other testing sites, which was less than 5% at the time.
But Hartzell pointed to other metrics in his assessment of the university's response.
"[T]here has been a relatively small number of infections among faculty and staff members," he wrote, "and the return of our student population has not resulted in wider spread through Austin and Travis County or increased hospitalizations."
Since the fall semester began, the moving average number of new confirmed cases reported each day in Travis County has fallen from more than 150 to 107 and the moving average number of COVID-related hospital admissions has dropped from 19.6 to 13.
However, local health officials have raised concerns about the potential spread from teenagers and young adults to the broader community.
"I want to remind our young people … to please engage in protective behaviors not only in the classroom but outside the classroom," Escott said Tuesday.
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U.S. Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to Supreme Court, with Texans Cornyn and Cruz in favor
By Abby Livingston
WASHINGTON — With the support of Texas' two senators, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 52-48 vote Monday evening.
The Texas Army National Guard said Monday that it had been ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott to dispatch 1,000 troops to five major cities across the state, including Austin, in connection with the election.
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Cold weather is finally hitting Austin, which means it's time to enjoy staying at home and bundling up with some cozy meals.
If you haven't become the cook of your dreams since the pandemic hit, now is the perfect time to try out these recipes which will surely warm your belly.
Blackberry, bacon grilled cheese<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU5MzQwMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTU4Nzg0N30.y0sULvOAmBjq1ZbNdQ1fdOUgenNLSkbQitW2O-v-h2E/img.png?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C231%2C0%2C369&height=800" id="248c9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0e9c480efdcda9ca576b8bf3de759c3c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>If you are looking for a completely different take on a traditional comfort meal, try making a blackberry, bacon grilled cheese. Blackberry, bacon and jalapeños on a grilled cheese? Sounds bizarre, but the mixture of savory, sweet and spicy will have you making these every week.</p><p>This easy recipe will only take 15 minutes and will allow you to cozy up on the couch ready to binge watch your favorite show. For any sandwich lover, this take on a grilled cheese will brighten up any gloomy, cold day.</p><p>You can find the recipe for the blackberry bacon grilled cheese<a href="https://www.lemontreedwelling.com/blackberry-bacon-grilled-cheese/" target="_blank"> here</a>.</p>
Jambalaya<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU5MzM5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTc5OTEyMX0.760iOWCfyYyyXbA7NmyTDUa4FctY00REUXftmBLAtA8/img.png?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C117%2C0%2C439&height=800" id="2fca4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ecd9c9503736d209e8dd3e11b94bb4f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>For those of you looking for a hearty and flavorful wintertime dinner, try spicing up your kitchen skills by making a cajun jambalaya.</p><p>Jambalaya is a popular dish originated in New Orleans with West African, French and Spanish inspired flavors. With so many different varieties of flavors, you can modify your jambalaya to suit your desires, and add your own touch to the dish.</p><p>This recipe will take about 55 minutes, and will definitely make your neighbors envy the smell coming from next door.</p><p>You can find the recipe for the cajun jambalaya <a href="https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/jambalaya-recipe/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>
Sheet pan chicken tikka with cauliflower and chickpeas<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU5MzQyNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTgyOTE3MX0.OOSOmCgn2kXx-KsiZGjZ_cs5r7X1qZZdwNYAJ5lKR_0/img.png?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C310%2C0%2C311&height=800" id="287c6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5ada473e20e0a3d9e8e302019bbb3c52" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br>For anyone looking for an easy meal prep during the colder months, try making a sheet pan chicken tikka with cauliflower and chickpeas. This recipe is protein-packed and takes 55 minutes to make.</p><p>This recipe is perfect for anyone who wants to get home, cozy up in their favorite sweater and enjoy a warm, flavorful meal. Try pairing this chicken with rice or quinoa for some more substance.</p><p>You can find the recipe for the sheet pan chicken tikka with cauliflower and chickpeas <a href="https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/recipes/a25620918/chicken-tikka-sheet-pan-recipe/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p>
Spicy pork ramen noodle soup<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU5MzQwMC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNzc0NjkyMH0.cIfhB4xkAQdcDYlugGFahbUFRJW-AEklw9i-t68QHxo/img.png?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C530%2C0%2C68&height=800" id="b5335" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e2f83e6aa50d5d8eafd7c4333b0a51ce" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br>If you have five hours to spare at home, put those ramen packets aside and attempt making your own spicy pork ramen. Although it is a bit more time consuming, this ramen will impress everyone in your home and you'll forget about buying ramen from the grocery store.</p><p>The broth is made by slow cooking the pork for four hours, which will enhance the taste and be so worth it. Customize the recipe by adding your favorite vegetables and spice it up a bit more with chili flakes.</p><p>You can find the recipe for the spicy pork ramen noodle soup <a href="https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/spicy-pork-ramen-noodle-soup/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p>
Vegan mushroom wild rice soup<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU5MzM5Ni9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MjU5NzI4MH0.YAE_oJnS50B4xV024Eqhs-9AJESRflIpE5XFzCtPHgI/img.png?width=1200&coordinates=0%2C326%2C0%2C191&height=800" id="1f92b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="321a1ea7ed77821f7751ba016b02315b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>As cold weather approaches, what could be better than a mushroom wild rice soup for dinner? When thinking of winter, cream and mushroom definitely come to mind. If you are looking for the perfect cold weather dish, look no further.</p><p>This warm and comforting dish will take about an hour to make and is completely dairy and gluten free. With minimal ingredients and only one pot needed, the total time you'll spend making this soup is about how long it would take for you to order take out and pick it up. Homemade tastes better anyway.</p><p>You can find the recipe for the vegan mushroom wild rice soup <a href="https://shortgirltallorder.com/vegan-mushroom-wild-rice-soup" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>
Two virtual community meetings scheduled Monday and Thursday about the future of Hancock Golf Course have been canceled because too many people signed up to attend.
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Academy-award winning actor Matthew McConaughey explains his goals for Austin, in his role as the minister of culture of the University of Texas, and what it means to be an Austinite on Joe Rogan's podcast.
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A second, stronger cold front is expected to hit tonight—bringing chilly weather through at least the rest of the week and rainy weather through Wednesday.
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