Texas A&M and University of Texas systems expect to reopen in the fall, and A&M says it will play football

Texas A&M and University of Texas systems expect to reopen in the fall, and A&M says it will play football

The water tower at Texas A&M University.
The water tower at Texas A&M University.
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comment

The most visible public universities in Texas are moving toward reopening their campuses in the fall — and two of them say they plan to play football when they do.

On Thursday, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp told all 11 university presidents in the system that they will reopen their campuses this fall and be ready to play sports, a university system official confirmed to The Texas Tribune. Texas Tech University has also announced that it plans to resume on-campus classes in the fall. Both schools said they are drawing up precautions to keep students safe while bringing them back to campus.

Meanwhile, University of Texas System Chancellor James B. Milliken told the Tribune during a live event Thursday that “it’s pretty clear we will be open in the fall.”

“Not entirely like last fall, but not like this spring either,” he said.

All Texas universities are currently closed for in-person classes due to the threat of the new coronavirus. Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered schools closed through the spring semester.

Sharp wants to “make this happen,” according to an A&M spokesman, but said will defer to the governor, board of regents, NCAA and SEC for the final decision.

Many Texas colleges and universities were on spring break when spread of the new coronavirus began disrupting higher education. Although some students returned briefly after break, campuses were ultimately shut down and classes moved online in mid-March.

The shutdowns have been costing schools millions in lost revenue, at least $19.5 million for A&M, a spokesperson told the Tribune two weeks ago. The federal stimulus programs gave A&M just under $40 million to be split between covering losses and financial aid for students.

Texas Tech received about $25.5 million in federal aid. Students at the Lubbock campus will return to classes with a list of precautions including social distancing and testing, President Lawrence Schovanec said in a letter to the campus Wednesday.

“We need to recognize that campus life will be different when we return in the fall,” Schovanec said. “We are developing several ways to reduce the density of groups in our student facilities, large lecture-based classrooms, and our popular campus areas. These same plans extend to special events, including athletics.

“Strategies for fall instruction will involve a blend of online and face-to-face classes for some students. We will also take extra precautions to protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Baylor University has already announced that it will resume on-campus classes in the fall.

Disclosure: The Texas A&M System, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas System and Baylor University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Source: Texas Tribune

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