August 13, 2021
Our fall semester begins August 23 and uncertainty around the pandemic continues to grow. As you know, Central Texas is in Stage 5 COVID-19 guidelines. We’ve been closely monitoring changes, including the Delta variant surge across our region, and remain in close touch with regional health experts and other community colleges across the state. These changes serve as a trigger for ACC to evaluate and reassess our plans and protocols.
Today, our Board of Trustees heard directly from Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin’s Medical Director/Health Authority, to learn about the regional impacts. Dr. Walkes shared that the most important way to prevent serious illness is to get vaccinated. We also know masking and social distancing when indoors work to slow the spread, and that we should all stay home if we’re sick.
Our Trustees are listening, and today they made several decisions about new, temporary measures we will take to keep our community safe and maintain our high standards for teaching. Here’s what you can expect.
Effective August 20, 2021, anyone who is 2 years of age or older, will be required to wear a face mask in all ACC buildings. The decision does not come lightly but is made in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, employees, and community. While many of us at ACC are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, other members of our families and households are not. Face masks continue to be a highly effective way to limit the spread of the virus.
Temporary Change to Instruction
We’re also scaling back the number of students and employees on campus when the fall semester begins. Many courses will be held online for the first three weeks of the semester from August 23 through September 12. Courses that require in-person instruction, including labs, will still be held on-campus. Those that can be moved to online formats will do so for this period. You can expect our campuses to look a lot like they did in spring 2021. Virtual options for dual credit and Early College High School students are limited, so we’ll be working with superintendents to develop a plan that meets the needs of these students. You’ll receive more information if these changes impact you.
Student support services will remain available in both virtual and in-person formats. Those in-person opportunities will be limited to our destination campuses, including Highland, Riverside, and Round Rock, during these first three weeks.
Supervisors will continue to limit on-campus personnel to what is necessary for in-person instruction and support services during the modified fall operations. You can expect more information from them about the details of your work schedule.
We also continue to strongly encourage and promote the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine. We know vaccinations work. The college hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics across our district. All employees are eligible for up to four hours of administrative leave to get their COVID-19 vaccine. A complete list of ACC’s vaccination sites and schedules are available online. In addition, you may visit www.vaccines.gov to find a vaccination clinic happening near you.
Starting Monday, August 16, ACC’s health app will be required for all students, employees, and visitors. You may download the app from our website. If you’re exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, the app will provide you information about steps you can take to report your illness.
Cleaning & Disinfecting Procedures
For anyone who is on campus, I want to assure you ACC’s cleaning and disinfecting procedures are ongoing. We follow the recommendations of the CDC. When you come to campus, you’ll have access to hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment. Additional supplies are available in the campus manager’s office as needed.
This is an ever-changing situation. As always, ACC remains open and flexible in our planning. I will keep you updated as decisions are made.
ACC’s entire community of faculty, staff, students, administrators, and its board has done an extraordinary job, working together to find the balance of maintaining the highest standards for teaching, student support, and keeping our community safe during the pandemic. As we move forward, I urge you to continue to show grace and respect. This is a time for us to work together. We all have a role in doing what we can to protect the health and safety of our community. I want to thank you for your continued diligence.
Richard M. Rhodes, Ph.D.
Austin Community College District
* Please note: An earlier email indicated additional supplies may be available at the campus library. ONLY the Campus Manager's Office (CMO) will have these supplies. Please visit or contact your CMO for supplies as needed.