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Updates for Faculty and Staff


Resources for Instructors

May 29, 2020 at 2:18 pm - New resources to help you prepare for the fall semester.

Campus Update for May 28

May 28, 2020 at 2:11 pm - A roundup of campus news and information.

Campus Update for May 26

May 26, 2020 at 5:05 pm - A roundup of campus news and information.

Changes to the Fall Calendar for Faculty and Staff

May 26, 2020 at 2:26 pm - We are adjusting the academic calendar and developing new safety measures.

Campus Update for May 21

May 21, 2020 at 1:56 pm - A roundup of campus news and information.

Re-Imagining Fall Task Force Report

May 20, 2020 at 11:39 am - These recommendations will serve as a foundation for decisions to come.

Campus Update for May 18

May 18, 2020 at 2:59 pm - A roundup of campus news and information.

Campus Update for May 14

May 14, 2020 at 12:54 pm - A roundup of campus news and information

Campus Update for May 11

May 11, 2020 at 4:34 pm - A roundup of campus news and information.

Campus Update for May 7

May 07, 2020 at 11:41 am - A roundup of campus news and information

FAQs



I’m a UT employee. I feel sick, I think I may have recently been exposed to COVID-19, or I have been diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do? Should I self-isolate?

What to do if you feel sick

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and/or loss of taste or smell.

If you start exhibiting these symptoms, you should:

  • Stay home, limit contact with others, and contact your health care provider or, if needed, your local emergency room. Always call ahead before going to your health care provider or ER.
  • Advise your health care provider regarding your recent travel history or other exposure risk.
  • Do not travel on public transportation.

Continue to maintain the same precautions recommended for everyone:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hand) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others. Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 percent–95 percent alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.

When to self-isolate for 14 days, even if you feel fine

The university is following CDC and federal guidance for self-isolation and quarantine. If you fall into one of the specific categories below, you are required to self-isolate or quarantine for at least 14 days:

  • Anyone with symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection as outlined above or known to be positive for COVID-19 infection.
  • Anyone who has had close contact with someone known to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Close contact means you were within about six feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (that is, more than a few minutes). Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with someone who has COVID-19. Close contact also means having direct contact with secretions (typically coughs and sneezes) from a person with COVID-19.
  • Anyone arriving back in the US after traveling in another country.
  • Anyone arriving from a cruise ship (ocean or river).
  • Anyone traveling from areas or cities within the US where community spread of COVID-19 is ongoing. Unlike with international travel, there is no single source or authority to determine if you need to self-isolate after traveling from a location in the US. Instead, domestic travelers need to decide what they need to do based on their evaluation of local conditions. Travelers should check with state or local authorities at their starting point, along their route, and at their planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.

If you show any symptoms of COVID-19 during your time in self-isolation, contact your health care provider or, if needed, your local emergency room.

If you are self-isolating based on the above guidance, contact your supervisor. They will provide further instructions on any additional steps you need to take, including completion of a faculty and staff self-isolation form and notification of HR.

If you have been in contact with someone who is self-isolating but not known to be infected with COVID-19, you are not required to self-isolate.

Telecommuting while self-isolating

If you must self-isolate, are not sick, and can work remotely, contact your supervisor to discuss telecommuting.

If you must self-isolate, are somewhat sick, and can do some remote work, contact your supervisor to discuss telecommuting for a portion of your self-isolation.

If telecommuting is not possible and/or you are too sick to work, your supervisor will discuss administrative leave options.

In all of the above situations, your supervisor will work with you to provide flexible work options. University leadership has asked all supervisors and managers to be flexible, compassionate, and creative in response to COVID-19.

Read more about telecommuting

Area COVID-19 testing sites

The Knox County Health Department has developed a map of COVID-19 testing sites in and near Knox County.

What to expect if you test positive for COVID-19

If you test for COVID-19 and the results are positive, your local health department and your health care provider will be notified of your results.

Your health care provider should contact you regarding your positive test results and provide you with further directives regarding your present care, follow-up evaluations, and isolation requirements.

You must stay isolated from others until you are advised by your health care provider to do otherwise.

Your health care provider may also discuss your case with local health officials. The health department will initiate an extensive check of where you have been since you first developed symptoms and with whom you have come into close contact. Your close contacts will then also be contacted, advised of their exposure risk, and provided directions on what they need to do. Your personal information will not be divulged to your close contacts.

COVID-19 and insurance

Copays, coinsurance, and deductibles will not apply to in-network COVID-19 testing and in-network outpatient visits leading to COVID-19 testing for all members in any plan (Premier, Standard, Limited, CDHP) with either carrier (BCBST, Cigna).

This benefit will take effect immediately and could also include claims prior to March 17, 2020, that meet these requirements.

Regular cost-sharing will apply for any treatment associated with COVID-19 under the current cost-sharing based on the plan in which members are enrolled.

Read more guidance on COVID-19 and insurance, including how your benefits apply to telehealth services.

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I have been contacted by a colleague or student who says they are sick, may have been exposed to COVID-19, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19. What do I tell them?

First, let the person know you care about their situation and that the university is here to support them. Refer them to their health care provider for any medical questions.

If you are contacted by a UT staff or faculty member

If the person needs to self-isolate and you are their supervisor, ask them to complete the faculty and staff self-isolation form. If you are not their supervisor, ask them to speak to their supervisor about self-isolation. If a colleague contacts you, please share that information with your supervisor so they can make sure their unit leadership is aware and that proper reporting has been completed.

Human Resources will provide information and guidance to any employee who completes the self-isolation form.

The self-isolation form is also used to determine when and where a person in isolation was last on campus. This helps the university in assessing the need to notify other individuals and determining appropriate administrative and cleaning procedures that may be necessary.

If you are contacted by a UT student

All self-isolating students are asked to complete the student and student employee self-isolation form. Student employees who need to self-isolate should complete the form and communicate with their campus supervisor. The Office of the Dean of Students will follow up with any student who completes the self-isolation form to provide support resources.

If a student contacts you, please share that information with your supervisor so they can make sure their unit leadership is aware and that proper reporting has been completed.

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Do I really need to practice social distancing?

It is critical that we continue social distancing. Please refrain from gathering with friends and large groups, avoid public spaces as much as possible, and keep yourself healthy so that we can keep our community healthy.

Wearing a cloth face mask in public is recommended by the CDC and encouraged by the university when you are on campus and safe social distancing is difficult to maintain.

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How does the university follow up when there is a potential case of COVID-19?

Guided by expertise from public health officials and the CDC, the university has a team that responds quickly to reports related to COVID-19.

Faculty, staff, and students have a crucial role in protecting the health of the campus community, because the response process starts with a self-isolation form. All faculty, staff, and students are urged to immediately complete a self-isolation form if they need to isolate because of symptoms or possible exposure.

After a staff member or student completes the self-isolation form, they will be contacted to learn more about their health situation, the people with whom they may have had close contact, and the places they have been on campus.

If needed, close contacts of the person who is self-isolating will be notified directly by either the county health department or campus personnel trained to assist in contact tracing.

In addition, Facilities Services may initiate temporary closures and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of affected campus spaces.

Facilities Services closely monitors the latest guidance for slowing the spread of COVID-19, including best practices for ventilation and for cleaning and disinfecting. High-touch surfaces and common areas are routinely cleaned to protect against exposure to COVID-19.

If a campus space is affected by COVID-19, Facilities Services will identify key people who use the space and communicate with them to discuss temporary closure requirements, coordination of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, and considerations such as sensitive equipment.

Signage will be posted to designate temporarily closed areas. If possible, spaces will be closed for seven days before cleaning. Spaces will be closed for at least 24 hours.

The campus community can stay informed by checking the current list of temporary space closures.

Learn more about the work of Facilities Services.

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I plan to travel internationally, what should I do?

Effective March 10, UT suspended nonessential UT-related international and domestic travel. Do not book any new university-related international travel until further notice

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Can I travel in the US?

On March 10, UT suspended nonessential UT-related international and domestic travel.

Essential travel is travel that is absolutely necessary and required to preserve:

  • the safety of our students, faculty and staff;
  • the safety of a research subject; and
  • research activity which cannot be postponed.

If there is a circumstance where you believe university-related domestic travel must occur, you may submit a request for an exception by emailing the request to travelexception@utk.edu. Requests will be reviewed by senior university leadership.

We also ask that you be mindful of personal domestic travel and bringing visitors to campus. Please stay at home and don’t travel if you have respiratory symptoms.

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I have personal international travel planned. What should I do?

Community spreading is occurring globally. Any student, faculty, or staff who travels outside the US or goes on any cruise ship may not return to campus for two weeks upon their return home. Please curtail personal international travel. If you do travel internationally for personal reasons, you are encouraged to register with the Center for Global Engagement.

When you return, you are expected to contact your supervisor and are required to follow any CDC-recommended guidelines. If you choose to go ahead with travel for personal reasons, and have trouble abroad or when you return, please understand that you are responsible for your time and expenses.

Personal international travel registration is encouraged but not required (Registration form: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/form/55mx5xevhrrw#tab=entryForm). The purpose of this registration is for travelers to receive timely updates from the university. The university’s duty of care does not apply to personal travel.

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What is social distancing?

Social distancing includes measures taken intended to reduce the likelihood of exposure to an infectious disease. These measures include, but are not limited to:

  1. Remaining out of congregate settings or public places where close contact with others may occur.
    (Examples of congregate settings include places such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums, workplaces, and schools and other classroom settings.)
  2. Avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, and ride share), and
  3. Maintaining distance from others (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters).
  4. Using web-based learning for instruction rather than classrooms,
  5. Modifying operations by allowing people to come in only to pick up materials that have been reserved or requested on-line or by telephone
  6. Changing company practices by setting up flexible shift plans, having employees telecommute and canceling any large meetings or conferences.

Social distancing is only one component of the infection control measures sometimes taken by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. Other important personal infection control actions include:

  1. Cleaning your hands often.
  2. Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    (If soap and water are not readily available, using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.)
  3. Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  5. Staying home if you’re sick, except to get medical care.
  6. Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the used tissue in the trash, and immediately washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using the inside of your elbow.
    (If soap and water are not readily available, using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.)
  7. Wearing a facemask if you are sick.
  8. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily.
    (This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces appear dirty, clean them with a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.)

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Have you witnessed or been the recipient of a bias-based incident?

As we navigate these challenging times as an inclusive campus community, please do not make assumptions about others based on perceived symptoms or identities (e.g., race, ethnicity and/or national origin). We want to foster a campus environment in which everyone matters and belongs. This means showing empathy and respect to all Vols, particularly those for whom this may be an especially stressful situation.

It is important to uphold our values during this evolving situation and to protect every aspect of our community’s well-being. For those who may need additional support, please utilize the following resources:

  • Students can contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 974-HELP or the Student Counseling Center at 865-974-2196 for support services.
  • Employees can access resources through the Office of Human Resources or by calling 865-946-CARE.
  • For more information regarding bias and to make a report, visit bias.utk.edu.

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Are any events canceled?

All classes have been moved online for the duration of the spring and summer semesters, and all university-sponsored events are canceled.

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How does the change to online-only course work affect research?

The Office of Research and Engagement is providing extensive guidance and updates for researchers.

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What is the status of research facilities?

The Office of Research and Engagement has outlined guidelines for labs and lists the current status of core facilities.

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What are the current cleaning procedures on campus?

Facilities Services closely monitors the latest guidance for slowing the spread of COVID-19, including best practices for ventilation and for cleaning and disinfecting. High-touch surfaces and common areas are routinely cleaned to protect against exposure to COVID-19.

Learn more about the work of Facilities Services.

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What about human subjects research, export control, and care for laboratory animals?

The Office of Research and Engagement is providing guidance on responsible conduct of research.

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What if my child’s school closes, and I have to stay home to take care of my child?

Employees may need to stay home with children or may need to provide elder or other care during this pandemic. The university wants to support you as you tend to these needs, and so we strongly urge telecommuting when at all possible during such circumstances. Please work directly with your supervisor.

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What resources and supports are available to employees and their families during this time? Is there an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?

As we continue to figure out the new normal in both our professional and personal lives, each individual will experience the impact of COVID-19 differently. For some the biggest challenge is getting a printer to work at home. For others, it is worrying about a loved one who is unwell and far away.

Whatever your experience, our Employee Assistance Program has added new offerings to help you through this time. In addition to the usual mental health counseling benefit for eligible faculty and staff, a new COVID-19 public crisis line is available to you and your friends and family. In addition, a new app called Sanvello offers tools for coping and peer support as well as tips and FAQs for helping children and older adults during a quarantine.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is offered through Optum Health and designed to provide free confidential assistance to help employees and their families resolve problems that influence their personal lives or job performance. EAP services are available to all benefits-eligible UT employees and their spouses and dependent children. Benefits include up to five no-cost EAP visits with a provider in our EAP network per year.

Contact EAP any time

Employees can access EAP at any time by visiting here4tn.com or calling 855-Here4TN (855-437-3486; TDD/TTY dial 711). For more information about EAP, visit the Human Resources website.

The Optum Public Crisis Line is 866-342-6892. This line is available to everyone, so you can share the number with your family and friends. Caring professionals connect callers to resources 24/7.

Optum’s COVID-19 support page hosts a wealth of resources and supports for well-being.

Free Sanvello premium access will be available during the COVID-19 crisis. This app provides coping tools, peer support, and on-demand help with reducing stress and anxiety.

Resources available through EAP and Optum Health

Webinars

Coping with Traumatic Events
Traumatic events can range from acts of terrorism or war to natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19. Whatever form it takes, when trauma hits close to home it can be hard to process. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.

Get the Best of Stress
In this training, participants get an overview of stress basics as well as practical suggestions for coping with stressful situations like the COVID-19 outbreak.

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I plan to host international visitors. What should my visitors do?

International visitors to campus must complete the international visitor registration form. Remind visitors that anyone arriving in the US from another country must self-isolate for 14 days.

Once in the US, visitors must also self-isolate for 14 days if they:

  • Have symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection as outlined below or are known to be positive for COVID-19 infection.
  • Have had close contact with someone known to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Close contact means being within about six feet of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (that is, more than a few minutes). Close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a person who has COVID-19. Close contact also means having direct contact with secretions (typically coughs and sneezes) from a person who has COVID-19.
  • Anyone traveling from areas or cities within the US where community spread of COVID-19 is ongoing. Unlike with international travel, there is no single source or authority to determine if you need to self-isolate after traveling from a location in the US. Instead, domestic travelers need to decide what they need to do based on their evaluation of local conditions. Travelers should check with state or local authorities at their starting point, along their route, and at their planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and/or loss of taste or smell.

Visitors who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 must not come to campus until they have been without a fever and feeling well for at least 72 hours.

If your unit is hosting international visitors, you must inform your guests of these guidelines before their visit and obtain an acknowledgment that they have received and understand the guidelines.

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Will grading or other academic policies change to help students?

To support your continued success, the university is offering one final opportunity for undergraduate students to request a change to their current academic grading modes or choose to forgo any changes for the spring 2020 semester.

Deadlines

  • For students who are graduating: Please make your selection no later than Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at at 5 p.m. EDT
  • Continuing undergraduate students: Please make your selection no later than Monday, June 8, 2020 at at 5 p.m. EDT.

Visit the Office of the Registrar for instructions on how to request a change to your current academic grading modes.

What about graduate students?

Graduate students are not included in the process and will not be able to appeal to change their previously selected grading option.

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What is the current status of research and creative activity?

According to the Office of Research and Engagement, campus-based research and creative activity are currently scaled down in an effort to limit face-to-face interactions and keep faculty, staff, and students safe.

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How is the university distributing CARES Act funds to students?

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has begun to distribute $9.62 million provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for student emergency relief.

Approximately 90 percent of the initial CARES Act funding is being disbursed directly to about 9,000 eligible students in the form of grant aid to help with financial hardships as a result of COVID-19. The remaining 10 percent will be available to students who apply for and are eligible for emergency financial assistance.

Grant aid will be distributed to UT undergraduate and graduate students with the highest need based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Eligible students received an email from the university last week and do not have to take any action to receive the funds. Students who opted to receive electronic refunds will receive grants electronically. All other students will receive a check mailed to their address on file.

The remaining 10 percent of the initial funding will provide additional emergency funds through UT’s Emergency Fund Program to students enrolled in the spring 2020 semester. Students who have experienced financial hardship related to COVID-19 are encouraged to request an emergency grant using the Student Emergency Fund application administered by the Office of the Dean of Students.

The university has raised $180,000 in private donations for the Student Emergency Fund. The funds enable the university to support a broader range of students, including international students and others who may be ineligible to receive CARES Act funds.


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