3/20/20 | Planning for COVID-19

As the university advances its efforts in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, we are articulating plans to sustain our critical missions. We affirm our commitment to public health by maintaining quality education programs, clinical services and essential research. Faculty and students are valuable members of the healthcare team and provide meaningful care. The School of Nursing response plan provides guidance below.

Academic clinical considerations

  • UT Health nursing students should continue their clinical rotations as scheduled unless otherwise notified by faculty.
  • Contingency plans are in place for students who have clinical absences. Students should coordinate directly with their faculty.
  • Faculty and students should always use universal precautions when caring for patients.
  • Infectious disease control protocols and methodology in place at the assigned clinical site should be followed carefully by faculty and students completing clinical rotations.
  • If faculty are concerned about the infectious disease control measures in place at a given clinical site, students should not be sent to that site.
  • If you are concerned about infectious disease control measure at a clinical site, report concerns to respective academic deans (Dr. Sara Gill or Dr. Cynthia O’Neal).
  • In the interest of student safety, undergraduate students will not provide direct care for patients with suspected or known cases of COVID-19, until better epidemiological data are available. Agencies may have additional restrictions. 
  • Graduate nurse practitioner students must complete clinical hours in order to sit for the certification exam. Please know that we will work with you to complete those hours if you are unable to attend clinical. 

Additional precautions

  • Students are to review the infection control and prevention content contained within a curriculum. This information is critical to helping to keep students safe. Review resource materials that are available in Canvas for your convenience.
    • Surveillance and Detection Isolation
    • Quarantine, and Containment
    • Standard, Contact, and Airborne Precautions
    • Proper Handwashing, Cough, and Respiratory Etiquette Selection and Appropriate Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Students are to stay home if they manifest any signs or symptoms of illness and are to notify faculty (in accordance with the excused absence policy).
  • Students will follow hospital access/entry protocols.
  • Faculty will familiarize students with agency guidelines prior to clinical rotations.
  • Faculty will review with students the communication methods for immediate dissemination of information.
  • Faculty will collaborate with the healthcare team as to how to utilize students to support care and minimize disruption.
  • For guidance on returning to your clinical rotation after a possible exposure, please consult with the Student Health Center (Wellness 360), the appropriate associate deans, vice dean for practice and engagement (Dr. Cindy Sickora sickora@uthscsa.edu) and your faculty.
  • For up-to-date information on South Texas Readiness, download Ready South Texas app on your smart device.

Academic didactic/lecture considerations

  • In the event of School or building closure :
    • Every effort is being made to ensure students complete required course work and are not penalized.
    • Electronic communication will be maximized (e-mail, CANVAS, etc ) in an effort to continue teaching courses to students by virtual/online delivery.
  • For didactic/lecture courses:
    • All didactic courses for nursing students were transitioned for virtual/online delivery by March 16 through the end of the semester.
    • Monitor email and Canvas announcements for faculty guidance.
    • Course delivery may be synchronous or asynchronous.
    • Some courses are planning completely asynchronous activities.  In courses that utilize synchronous methods, asynchronous access will be provided as well. In other words, content will be recorded for viewing later.
  • Faculty will provide guidance about examination policies.
  • Keep face-to-face study groups to less than >10 people.
  • Practice social distancing everywhere.
  • Large gatherings are disallowed.


  • Exams have been rescheduled while the university pivots to online testing. Any exams or quizzes scheduled for this week have been postponed.

Research considerations 

  • Current research activities should be reviewed, and contingency plans developed in an attempt to ensure research activities are not unnecessarily disrupted.
  • Questions should be directed to our Vice Dean for Research, Dr. Jing Wang.

Clinical operations at Wellness 360 (student and employee health services)

  • A hotline has been established for students, faculty and staff for questions: 210-450-8000
    Wellness 360 will continue to see patients.
  • All patients will be seen and those who have demonstrated a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission will be treated virtually or in a manner that prevents the potential spread of illness. Patients are being screened by phone for COVID-19 risk factors prior to scheduling an appointment.
  • Faculty providing clinical services should follow the infectious disease policies and protocols in place at the clinical site in which the services are delivered.
  • For any questions about clinical hours or services offered, please visit wellness360.uthealthsa.org or call 210-567-2788.

Foreign Business Travel  

  • All international business travel is suspended until further notice (30-day review).
  • This includes incoming (visiting) international travel.
  • Protocols (e.g., self-isolation, self-monitoring) are determined by travel location.  This information changes every few hours and is updated on the university’s COVID 19 site www.uthscsa.edu/coronavirus

Domestic Business Travel for Faculty/Staff 

  • Only travel deemed to have the potential for life-saving impact and endorsed by the respective Dean or Vice President will be allowed.
  • Approval for new domestic business travel will not be considered until May 1, 2020; an exception for such a trip must be approved by the respective Dean or Vice President using the criteria of life-saving impact.

Personal Travel (International and Domestic)  

  • Please strongly consider the risk to you and others of personal international and domestic travel at this time.
  • Any travel is highly discouraged.
    If you travel to a Level 3 location as reported by the CDC, you will need to self-isolate for 14 calendar days.


  • Check university website daily for official updates.
  • School specific updates will be communicated by the Dean as needed.
  • All faculty, staff and students should update cell phone and email contacts as soon as possible in PeopleSoft.
  • All official communications will be distributed through Livemail and UTHSCSA email.
  • Canvas learning system is updated with needed resources.
  • Librarian, Emme Lopez lopeze13@uthscsa.edu and Educational Development Specialist, Sailaja Athyala athyalas3@uthscsa.edu are available to assist.
  • Maintain impeccable integrity.
  • Be patient in waiting for information and with content delivery as we enter new methods of instruction.
  • Please keep abreast of frequent updates. Check your Livemail email at least twice each day preferably in the morning and in the evening.
  • Engage in responsible communication (If you receive indirect information that concerns you, please always consider verifying the content and intended recipients before sharing with others).
  • Communicate with the Associate Deans: we are here to support you and our educational mission (students, faculty, staff, and community).

In closing, nursing students, especially those in the advanced portion of their learning and training, may have skills that may be of benefit as workforce extenders for our hospital partners. We believe in the critical principle that nurses have a duty to respond to this rapidly evolving situation across our institution and community. Once again, this is a rapidly evolving situation, so please keep abreast of needed adjustments, as necessary. Additional information can be found at the UT Health website:

We are not differentiating between excused and unexcused absences. Faculty will provide a contingency achievement plan for all absences regardless of reason.

Excused Absence Policy for Students 

Supporting Resources & Contacts for Students  

Office for Academic Affairs

Office of Admissions & Student Services

The Student Success Center

Librarian for the School of Nursing, Emme Lopez lopeze13@uthscsa.edu 

Educational Development Specialist, Sailaja Athyala athyalas3@uthscsa.edu  

Supporting Resources & Contact for Faculty 

Office for Academic Affairs

Office for Faculty Excellence

Office of Nursing Research and Scholarship

Office of Practice & Engagement

Article Categories: Nursing, Timely Updates