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Fall semester overview: What students can expect on campus

This overview provides an outline of how fall semester will work with social distancing and preventative measures in place.

Updated: July 30, 2020

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Social distancing, monitoring your health, and use of face coverings will be part of daily routines.
  • Changes to the academic calendar and course schedule will encourage social distancing.
  • Everyone is asked to read the Volunteer Commitment and do their part to protect the health and well-being of the campus community.

Planning is moving quickly toward a healthy and safe campus experience this fall.

The Volunteer Commitment

The Volunteer Commitment is our community’s promise to protect ourselves and one another, prevent the spread of illness, and help maintain an on-campus experience.

Students, faculty, and staff all commit to the following actions:

  • Wearing a mask on campus as instructed, including in classrooms.
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water, and using hand sanitizer.
  • Practicing social distancing and following protective guidelines when social distancing is not possible.
  • Acting quickly to follow instructions for testing and contact tracing.
  • Monitoring personal health and following medical instructions.
  • Following instructions for cleaning and hygiene on campus.

Read the Volunteer Commitment.

Review the requirement to wear face coverings.

Academic calendar

Changes to the academic calendar will reduce student travel and encourage social distancing. Classes will start August 19. Courses will be held on Labor Day, and there will be no fall break. Students will not return after Thanksgiving.

Learn more about the academic calendar.

Course schedules and formats

Changes to class times and locations will encourage social distancing. The time between classes has been extended to 25 minutes. Course formats will include face-to-face, hybrid (a combination of face-to-face and online), and online.

Health and safety remain at the core of all decisions, which are guided by data and the expertise of local, state, and federal health officials. Remote learning remains a possibility, but our plan is to be on campus in a way that prioritizes health and safety.

Learn more about course schedules and formats.


Vol Dining will be open for the fall semester with protective measures in place to make the experience convenient, enjoyable, and safe. Signage, floor markers, and physical barriers will be used to maintain social distancing. Seating for in-person dining will be available but limited to ensure social distancing. For restaurants and cafes on campus, students and employees can use the GET Food app to order food in advance and pick up their meal.

Learn more about dining.

Faculty & instruction

Instructors can access resources to adjust to new ways of teaching. Workshops and training are available.

Learn more about teaching resources.

Learn more about safety in classrooms and instructional labs.

Life outside the classroom

Students will have plenty of ways to experience campus life while following health and safety guidelines. Campus events such as speakers, performers, and cultural activities will be offered with protective measures. Academic support services and health and wellness services will include in-person and virtual options.

Learn more about life outside the classroom.

Learn more about hosting campus events and visitors.

New students

Incoming first-year and transfer students will be supported through new initiatives. Orientation incorporates online and in-person experiences, and welcoming events are being planned in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Learn more about new student experiences.

Residence halls

University Housing will communicate directly with students about room sign-up, move-in, logistical information, and expectations.

Learn more about living in residence halls.

Testing, screening, and contact tracing

The university’s program includes COVID-19 testing of symptomatic students and asymptomatic close contacts, self-screenings, regular surveillance testing, and contact tracing.

Learn more about testing, screening, and contact tracing.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.