Skip to main content

Guidance on wearing face coverings

Mask use is strongly encouraged in academic and administrative spaces.

Updated: January 20, 2022

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The university is closely following the state of Tennessee’s legal challenge to President Biden’s Executive Order 14042. The executive order applies to federal contractors, including UT Knoxville, and includes a masking requirement.
  • On November 30, 2021, a federal district judge granted the states of Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky a preliminary injunction that—for now—prohibits the federal government from enforcing the executive order on federal contractors in those states.
  • With the preliminary injunction in place, the university must comply with Tennessee law, which prohibits state institutions like UT Knoxville from requiring the use of masks. Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to wear masks in academic and administrative spaces to protect others from the spread of COVID-19.
  • The university has free masks available including KN95 masks, which are available to campus community members who individually request them.
  • Any individual can choose to wear a mask anywhere on campus, even when it is not required.

The university is closely following the state of Tennessee’s legal challenge to President Biden’s Executive Order 14042. The executive order applies to federal contractors, including UT Knoxville, and includes a masking requirement.

On November 30, a federal district judge granted the states of Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky a preliminary injunction that—for now—prohibits the federal government from enforcing the executive order on federal contractors in those states.

With the preliminary injunction in place, the university must comply with Tennessee law, which prohibits state institutions like UT Knoxville from requiring the use of masks. As a result, mask requirements on campus have been lifted.

Faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to wear masks in academic and administrative spaces to protect others from the spread of COVID-19.

The situation may change again as the legal process continues. The university will continue to keep the campus community updated.

With vaccines widely available that are effective at preventing serious illness, the university’s role is to provide guidance on health and safety practices.

  • The best way to be protected from serious illness is to get vaccinated and boosted when eligible. Vaccines are safe, free, effective, and easily available on campus. The CDC has noted that when infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be mild. Learn more about on-campus COVID-19 vaccination options.
  • The CDC currently recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor public spaces in an area with substantial or high transmission. Additional precautions include avoiding crowded indoor spaces and maintaining distance from others. Review CDC guidance for those who are fully vaccinated.
  • The CDC recommends that those who are not vaccinated take precautions including the use of masks and social distancing indoors to protect themselves and others from serious illness. Unvaccinated people are at higher risk of illness. View CDC guidance on how to protect yourself and others if you are not fully vaccinated.
  • Masks are expected to be worn in health care facilities and on public transportation, including the T.
  • Any individual can choose to wear a mask anywhere on campus—outdoors or in private indoor spaces—regardless of their vaccination status.

To discuss accommodations due to a medical condition, students should contact Student Disability Services; employees and visitors should contact the Office of Equity and Diversity.

University-Provided KN95 Masks

The university has free masks available including KN95 masks, which are available to campus community members who individually request them. Information on obtaining masks and on their proper use and wear is available on the Environmental Health and Safety website.

Reusable cloth masks are available to students at all on-campus residential housing locations, the information desk at the Student Union, the circulation desk and One Stop at Hodges Library, and Pendergrass Library.

Business managers can order reusable cloth and surgical masks for their departments.

Review the CDC’s information about the different types of masks and respirators.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
865-974-1000


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