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How and where to self-isolate

Your health care provider or the university’s contact tracing team will determine whether you need to quarantine or isolate and where to stay.

Updated: January 21, 2021

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Your health care provider or the university’s contact tracing team will determine whether you need to quarantine or isolate.
  • If you are asked to quarantine or isolate, you will have access to guidance and support throughout the process.
  • Virtual events and activities are available for students in quarantine or isolation.

There are two types of self-isolation.

  • Quarantine is for people who may have been exposed because of close contact with a COVID-19 case, travel, or other reasons.
  • Isolation is for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Your health care provider or the university’s contact tracing team will determine whether you need to quarantine or isolate.

After you complete a COVID-19 self-isolation form, the contact tracing team will follow up with you—generally within 24 hours, but the response time can vary depending on case loads. Until you hear from them, you need to:

  • Stay in and limit trips to essential outings such as visits to a health care provider or buying food or necessities. Avoid public transportation. Maintain social distancing and wear a mask.
  • Do not go to in-person classes or participate in extracurricular activities.
  • If you share a room or living space, clean all shared surfaces with disinfecting wipes and wear your mask around others.
  • Avoid close contact with others.

If you are asked to quarantine or isolate, you will have access to guidance and support throughout the process. You can check your status, provide updates, and find more information at covidsupport.utk.edu.

Where to quarantine or isolate

  • Employees and students who live off campus can typically quarantine or isolate where they live.
  • Students living on campus may, in some cases, quarantine or isolate where they live.
  • Students living on campus who cannot quarantine or isolate where they live will need to temporarily relocate to alternative housing arrangements.

Relocation assignments

The contact tracing team and University Housing will work with residential students to temporarily relocate them. Some university-arranged quarantine and isolation space is located off campus.

Residential students who need to relocate will receive an email that explains where they will go and provides additional details. You can find information about your location anytime at covidsupport.utk.edu.

Students will not be asked to move after 7 p.m.

While awaiting a quarantine or isolation assignment, students should:

  • Avoid unnecessary outings
  • Have food delivered or get grab-and-go food
  • Avoid close contact with others

What to bring

Residential students who need to temporarily relocate typically need two weeks of essentials:

  • Clothes
  • Medications
  • School materials
  • Phone chargers
  • Electronic devices
  • Snacks and beverages
  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and deodorant

You will also receive a self-care kit that will include linens (bedding and bath), thermometer, face coverings, gloves, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer.

Once a student leaves their residence hall for quarantine or isolation, their building access will be turned off until they are cleared to return. Students who forget an essential item can contact University Housing to have it brought to them.

Transportation

The university will provide transportation if needed for residential students who need to temporarily relocate. Students will not be transported after 7 p.m.

  1. Schedule transportation by calling Facilities Services at 865-946-7777.
  2. Go to the pickup location with your belongings at the scheduled time.

You an also request transportation at covidsupport.utk.edu. Transportation is provided to and from:

  • Your on-campus residence
  • Your key pickup and drop-off location
  • The Student Health Center (for appointments and follow-up)
  • Your quarantine or isolation location

Food

  • Students living on campus who have a Vol Dining meal plan can have meals delivered to them on campus or in university-provided space off campus. Students can choose meal delivery or opt out of delivery when they complete the COVID-19 self-isolation form. They can update their meal delivery status anytime at covidsupport.utk.edu.
  • For students living on campus who do not have a meal plan, Vol Dining meals can be delivered on campus or in university-provided space and charged to their flex plan. Students can add funds to their flex plan as needed.
  • Meals and snacks are automatically provided to everyone who isolates in Massey Hall, regardless of meal plan, status unless they opt out.
  • Students in a fraternity or sorority house who have a meal plan with their organization will make meal arrangements through their chapter house.
  • For students living off campus, options include food delivery apps and restaurant delivery services.

Vol Dining delivery schedule

Vol Dining meals will be delivered twice daily, for lunch and dinner. The dinner delivery includes a continental breakfast for the following day.

  • Meals will be delivered at approximately 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.
  • If your self-isolation form was submitted before 10:30 a.m., meal delivery will start with lunch on the same day. 
  • If your self-isolation form was submitted between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., meal delivery will start with dinner on the same day.
  • If your self-isolation form was submitted after 5:30 p.m., meal delivery will start the following day.

All university-arranged quarantine and isolation spaces have refrigerators and microwaves, and many have full kitchens.

Getting mail while relocated

UT Mail Services is here to help students living on campus who are relocated to quarantine or isolation housing. Regular mail will be delivered to your residence hall and placed in your mailbox.

You have options for package delivery while you are relocated to quarantine or isolation housing:

  1. Ask senders to ship directly to your quarantine or isolation location.
  2. Email tracking numbers for packages you need right away to studentpackages@utk.edu, and Mail Services will get them to you.
  3. If you are in isolation at Massey Hall, Mail Services will deliver packages that arrive during your isolation period to the Massey Hall package locker. It is helpful, but not required, to email tracking numbers to studentpackages@utk.edu.
  4. If no other arrangements are made, Mail Services will deliver each package to a package locker, where it will be stored for three days. After three days, Mail Services will remove the package from the locker, hold it for you at Mail Services, and re-deliver it to a package locker after your quarantine or isolation period ends.

Email studentpackages@utk.edu with questions about shipping and packages. In situations that require immediate assistance, call 865-974-6245 or 865-974-5408.

Health and care

If you develop new or worsening symptoms while in quarantine or isolation, you should contact your health care provider or, if needed, your local emergency room.

View the CDC’s list of COVID-19 symptoms.

Learn more about what to do if you feel sick.

Students with health concerns can call the Student Health Center nurse triage line at 865-974-5080. The university has a nurse available to speak to students by phone 24 hours a day. After-hours care has been arranged for eligible students through the UT Medical Center emergency room at 865-305-9000. Learn more about Student Health Center eligibility and cost.

Always call 911 in case of emergency.

Members of the contact tracing team regularly check on students in quarantine and isolation.

The university is not able to provide in-residence medical care, laundry, or cleaning services. As with any other serious illness, if you need additional support the preferred option will be for you to receive it at home or with your own caregiver off campus.

Your mental health is also important as you quarantine or isolate. Multiple resources are available, including 24/7 assistance for students and employees in distress.

Learn more about coping and support resources.

Academics

After students complete a COVID-19 self-isolation form, the Division of Student Success will contact them to check if they need academic support. They will also notify the students’ instructors.

Students should also communicate with their instructors. Unless they are too ill to do so, students should complete any online coursework and continue to attend online class sessions. Instructors are asked to be creative, compassionate, and flexible in working with students to help them stay on track if they need to miss class.

University-arranged quarantine and isolation spaces should have adequate Wi-Fi to take classes remotely. Students can contact the Office of Information Technology if they need assistance or the Wi-Fi is not working well.

What to do in quarantine or isolation

Stay in except to get medical care. Do not visit students in other rooms. If at all possible, have someone pick up food and necessities for you or have them delivered. If you must go out, avoid public transportation. Maintain social distancing and wear a mask.

Virtual events and activities

The university offers a wide selection of virtual events and activities, which are a great option for students in quarantine or isolation.

View virtual events.

Length of quarantine

In general:

If you were exposed but do not have symptoms, you are required to complete a 10-day quarantine. This quarantine period begins the day after your last suspected exposure.

If you live off campus, you may be able to leave quarantine early if you remain symptom-free and test negative for COVID-19 on a PCR-based test performed at least six days after your last exposure date. Testing out is not an option for students living on campus, a precaution consistent with CDC guidelines for residential facilities.

Length of isolation

In general:

  • If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19, you are required to complete a minimum 10-day isolation period. This isolation period begins the day after your symptom onset or the day after your test specimen collection date if you have not experienced symptoms. Additionally, you must be fever-free for a minimum of 24 hours, and your symptoms, if any, must be steadily improving.
  • Close contacts of individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19 who report symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are required to complete a 14-day isolation period. This isolation period begins the day after your last suspected exposure.
  • If you develop symptoms and have no known close contacts, you may be required to complete a 10-day isolation period. This isolation period begins the day after the onset of symptoms. We encourage symptomatic individuals to consult a health care provider and have testing performed if the provider recommends it.
  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should report their result to the university for contact tracing.

Each situation is unique, and students and employees should follow the guidance of their health care provider or the contact tracing team about ending their quarantine or isolation.

University Housing will reactivate students’ VolCard residence hall access when they leave quarantine or isolation.

Helpful CDC resources

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
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