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From the Chancellor: Coronavirus updates

March 10, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to emerge, I want to keep you updated on the latest decisions impacting our campus. There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at UT or in Knox County, and our campus leaders are in regular communication with the Knox County Health Department.

This is an evolving situation, and we are taking a number of steps to make sure we are prepared. Our Emergency Operations Center has been mobilized for weeks, gathering information and developing options for a group of decision makers—me, members of my cabinet, and other leaders. This policy group is preparing for a number of possible scenarios that could include impacts on housing, moving courses online, and supporting our students and employees should COVID-19 emerge on campus. Today we made the following decisions:

  • Effective immediately, we are suspending nonessential UT-related international and domestic travel outside the state of Tennessee.
  • We are asking all faculty and graduate teaching assistants prepare to move classes online should we need to suspend on-campus teaching. Provost Manderscheid will be communicating directly with faculty and graduate instructors to provide additional details and resources.
  • We have ramped up cleaning across campus and will use spring break to continue deep cleaning practices.

We have received a number of calls regarding a group of students in Laurel Hall. On March 3, a group of 12 students arrived on campus as part of the English Language Institute for a five-month immersion program. None of the students had or have any symptoms associated with COVID-19. We are limiting their access to other parts of campus for 14 days based strictly on their travel history and CDC guidelines. You can read the full correspondence from Student Health Center Director Spencer Gregg, MD, to Laurel Hall residents for more detailed accurate information.

We will continue to post all new information to utk.edu/coronavirus and provide regular email updates. Please pay attention to your email and check the website regularly for the latest information.

While the majority of COVID-19 cases present with mild symptoms, please remember that some members of our community are at greater risk than others. If you are sick, please do not come to campus. If you live on campus and are sick, please stay in your residence hall room and call the Student Health Center at 865-974-5080.

This is not a time for panic but a time for preparation and leadership. We ask that everyone follow instructions and do your part to protect our campus community.

Donde Plowman

Chancellor

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