San Antonio Area Colleges Delay Commencement, Close Libraries, Dorms | Texas Public Radio

San Antonio Area Colleges Delay Commencement, Close Libraries, Dorms

Apr 6, 2020

Update 4/06 — Trinity University officials announced commencement will be postponed until Saturday, Aug. 8. Degrees will be distributed in May.

Update 3/30 — The Alamo Colleges District has postponed its spring commencement ceremonies until December due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Texas A&M University-San Antonio is postponing its spring commencement ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic. University officials said the ceremony will most likely be delayed until fall, but degrees will still be conferred in May.

Our Lady of the Lake University has canceled its May commencement. OLLU plans to hold one commencement ceremony in December instead, for both its spring and fall graduates.

The University of Texas at San Antonio notified students of its decision to postpone spring commencement on Tuesday.

Update 3/ 18 — Students at St. Mary’s University were notified Wednesday morning that on-campus housing will be closed for the rest of the spring semester to help maintain student health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

University spokeswoman Jennifer Lloyd said the Office of Residence Life will only approve requests to stay “under extreme circumstances.”

Students have until Monday, March 23 to move out and will receive information about prorated refunds soon.

Lloyd said about 1,230 students were living on the St. Mary’s campus before spring break.

Trinity University closed its dorms on Monday, March 16. The University of Texas at San Antonio, Our Lady of the Lake University and the University of Texas at San Antonio are also closing their dorms. 

Students at UTSA are required to move out by March 31; students at OLLU and UIW have until March 30.

Texas A&M University-San Antonio, however, has not announced plans to close its only dorm.

Jeanette De Diemar, vice-president for external relations at TAMU-SA, said Wednesday less than 100 students are currently living at Esperanza Hall due to the extended spring break, but the remaining 300 or so students who call the dorm home are welcome to return.

“For many of our students, this is their primary home, and we want them to feel both welcome and safe,” De Diemar said.

De Diemar said the coronavirus outbreak is a rapidly changing situation, but TAMU-SA currently has no plans to close its dorm.

Published Tuesday, March 17 — Libraries and computer labs in the Alamo Colleges District will be closed starting Wednesday, March 18 to help ensure the safety of students and staff during the spread of the coronavirus.

District spokeswoman Kristi Wyatt said the Alamo Colleges decided the closures were necessary based on the advice released Monday by the local and federal government.

“We know that this is a difficult time for everyone. And school is very important. It's top of mind for us. But we also know that students have other needs. They have family needs, are concerned about their own health and safety and the people that they're caring for,” Wyatt said.

The community college system will return from an extended spring break March 23, and plans to continue classes remotely until at least April 3.

Wyatt said the district is surveying students to see how many need a tablet or laptop to access courses online.

“We do know that there are gaps. That's evident,” Wyatt said. “That’s evident everywhere. That’s evident in our K-12 partners.”

The Alamo Colleges has some devices available for students to checkout, and Wyatt said the district was ordering more. Students that have laptops or tablets will be able to access Wi-Fi in the parking lots of each of the district’s five colleges.

Wyatt said the district is also looking into other forms of remote learning that don’t require internet access.

“One of the reasons that we're using the term remote teaching is that everything may not be internet based,” Wyatt said. “For example, I know even as we're working remotely, a lot of us are using Zoom. Zoom is an online meeting tool where we can have web conferencing, but you can also dial in.”

UIW, OLLU Dorms Close

The University of the Incarnate Word and Our Lady of the Lake Univerity  are closing their dorms for the spring semester. Students at both universities will be required to move out by March 30, with some limited exceptions.

Our Lady of the Lake notified students of the need to move out of their dorms Tuesday, and announced that classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester.

UIW spokesperson Michael Valdes said that UIW students “were asked to start vacating the dorms on March 12” — the same day the university announced classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester.

The university posted additional information about parking restrictions and reimbursements online Tuesday, including a notice that libraries, pools and gyms were closed, effective immediately. Valdes said students will receive reimbursements for the remainder of their room and board prorated from March 16, regardless of when they move out.

UTSA Delays Commencement, Restricts On-Campus Housing

The University of Texas at San Antonio will move classes online for the remainder of the spring semester, and delay spring graduation ceremonies, UTSA spokesman Joe Izbrand confirmed Tuesday.

University of Texas System Chancellor James Milliken sent a letter to UT presidents earlier in the day, advising them to take those actions.

“Each of your institutions is unique, and you will have the latitude necessary and appropriate to accomplish these necessary steps while ensuring that your students continue their education,” Milliken said in the letter.

Milliken also asked presidents to limit on-campus housing to “students who do not have suitable alternatives.” Izbrand said UTSA will keep housing open to “those who have no other options.”

Izbrand said spring commencement will most likely be delayed until the summer.

Texas A&M-San Antonio Considers Delaying Commencement

Texas A&M-SA will also move classes online for the rest of the semester. The university canceled its ring ceremony scheduled for April 4, and is considering delaying its spring graduation ceremony. A final decision on commencement will be made later in the week.

St. Mary's University

St. Mary's University announced Monday it was moving all classes online for the rest of the semester, including classes at its School of Law. University officials said Monday the campus remained open, but all events are canceled through the end of April.

Trinity University closed its dorms Monday.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.