Benson pointed to concerns around the novel coronavirus as the reason for the decision.
“As we have learned in recent days and weeks, the situation caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus) is highly dynamic, and risks to our community can change rapidly,” his statement said.
The university is also extending spring break by one week, which means classes scheduled for March 23-27 are canceled, according to the statement. Faculty and staff will use this time to prepare for a transition to online courses.
There are no reported cases of coronavirus on the UT Dallas campus; however, the university is taking precautions to slow the spread of the virus by implementing social distancing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social distancing means staying out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others when possible.
“As we face this unprecedented situation, it is incumbent upon all of us to practice good hygiene and social distancing,” Benson said in the statement. “This includes washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, and isolating yourself if you become sick.”
All campus events will also be canceled, postponed or moved to a virtual format, Benson’s statement said. This will help to reduce person-to-person contact, he said.
The university has not yet decided on changes to spring athletic events and is waiting for guidance from the American Southwest Conference, according to the statement.
Student housing will remain open, and UT Dallas plans to keep up its normal business operations indefinitely. This includes research efforts, clinical services, student services and other administrative functions, the statement said.
“The wellbeing of our campus community is my utmost priority,” Benson said in the statement. “We will continually assess potential impacts and will not hesitate to implement whatever additional measures are necessary to protect our students, faculty and staff."