Letter to Laurel Hall residents about visiting ELI studentsMarch 10, 2020
A letter sent to Laurel Hall residents from Student Health Center director Dr. Spencer Gregg
We understand many of you have questions about a group of visiting students staying in Laurel Hall. We understand you may be concerned, and we want to provide you with additional information.
On March 3, a group of 12 students from Japan arrived on campus as part of the English Language Institute (ELI) for a five-month immersion program. None of the students had or have any symptoms associated with coronavirus (COVID-19).
They are being asked to limit contact with others because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their travel guidance for visitors from Japan the day after they arrived on campus. On March 4, the Tennessee Department of Health communicated new CDC recommendations for travelers from CDC Level 2 countries, which is currently Japan. The new recommendations advised travelers from Japan should limit contact with others.
With this in mind, we coordinated with local health authorities at the Knox County Health Department to develop procedures that would assist in limiting this group’s contact with other students on campus. These procedures have included having areas for the students to separately live, study, and meet. Meals are delivered to them so they do not use common eating areas. UT also provides dedicated laundry service and transportation for them as needed.
These students are being housed in Laurel Hall because that is where there was a block of open rooms together. I and others from UT are in contact with them, and again, none are exhibiting any symptoms of illness.
These students are following procedures to limit their contact strictly because of their travel history and not because of illness. Their period of observation and limited contact will end after March 17.
We recognize many people have understandable anxiety and concerns about coronavirus, and the university is taking a number of precautions and preparations to protect the campus community. We will continue to keep utk.edu/coronavirus updated, and will reach out to you directly should the situation in Laurel Hall change.
Spencer D. Gregg, MD, MBA
Director, Student Health Center