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Important COVID-19 Updates for Students

March 16, 2020 at 6:06 pm

Dear students,

UT System Interim President Randy Boyd, in consultation with the chancellors of all UT campuses, made the decision today to keep classes online through the end of the spring semester and cancel all events, including commencement.

I know this is particularly disappointing for our graduates who worked for their special day. We will find ways to celebrate your accomplishments.

But we must finish the semester strong. We are committed to your success—making sure you graduate on time and receive credit for your courses.

For those of you who live on campus, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas will reach out directly about moving out of your residence halls.

A lot has happened over the past week as we work to do our part to protect our campus community, our broader communities, and our health care system from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19. Thank you to all Volunteers for pulling together and supporting each other through unprecedented times.

As of this message, we do not yet have a confirmed case of COVID-19 on our campus. We know it is only a matter of time before that changes.

For most of us, COVID-19 will be like getting the flu or a cold—if we even have symptoms at all. But the precautions we are taking are not for the healthiest among us. They are about protecting the most vulnerable among us—our parents and grandparents, our friends and colleagues with underlying health concerns, small children who may not have a robust immune system.

It is critical that we continue social distancing off campus as well. 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.

What we do in the coming weeks and months will define us forever. This is an opportunity to show what it truly means to be a Volunteer—to make sacrifices for the greater good, to shadow ourselves and give light to others.

I know you will rise to this moment and look for ways to help one another.

There may be more difficult decisions ahead, but we are committed to our Volunteer principles and leading with courage—especially during unprecedented times like these: We’ll remember this moment for the rest of our lives. We’ll tell future generations about how our campus community responded, and in those moments we’ll recount how this was Rocky Top’s finest hour.

  • Keep our community healthy and hopeful.
  • Keep students on track toward success.
  • Be creative. Be compassionate. Be flexible.

Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.

Donde Plowman
Chancellor

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