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UT Austin no longer notifying all students if teachers, other students test positive for COVID-19

The university let students know about the change in an email on Thursday.

AUSTIN, Texas — A letter was sent to students and staff at the University of Texas at Austin, telling them that a change has been made to who they notify when a positive COVID-19 case is confirmed.

In the letter sent Sept. 23, UT told students and staff that the university would no longer send a notification to all students and instructors in a class when a student or instructor tests positive. Previously, that was the practice, even if some of the classmates or instructors were not considered to be in close contact with the person who tested positive.

"We have found, however, that the guidance many people receive through these notifications is the same as the advice we give all community members regardless of exposure, which is to test weekly, wear a mask indoors, get vaccinated, socially distance where possible," the letter read. "Given the repetition, we will discontinue this practice."

UT will also stop notifying everyone in University Housing and student organizations when a student or instructor tests positive. The letter said that if a pattern of cases necessitates notification to additional people outside close contacts, they will be notified.

The letter was posted on Austin's subreddit and verified to KVUE by a UT spokesperson.

According to UT's website, contact tracers will continue to call close contacts of a person with a confirmed positive test. Instructors are urged to assist with contact tracing by uploading seating charts to the school's website or by encouraging students to submit their seating locations in all classrooms using the Protect Texas Together mobile app.

Close contact is considered being in close proximity for a cumulative of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, regardless of masking, UT said.

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