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Updated COVID Guidelines

Dear Volunteer community,

We are excited to welcome our entire Volunteer community back to Rocky Top!

With vaccines now readily available, we will be relying on students and employees to make informed decisions about their own health and how to protect themselves. The spread of the Delta variant in our community makes these personal health decisions more critical than ever.

We encourage all Vols to get vaccinated. Additionally, in response to increasing spread of the Delta variant, we will begin the semester with limited mask requirements.

Mask guidelines

Students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks in classrooms and labs, and for indoor academic events required for students such as orientation. We will continually re-evaluate the need for masks based on COVID-19 case counts in our community.

We encourage every member of our campus community—especially those who are unvaccinated—to consider CDC guidance related to mask wearing in other indoor public spaces.

This is not how we wanted to begin this semester—we had hoped for different circumstances. Let’s do the right thing now in hopes of relaxing these requirements when conditions improve.

We plan a full campus experience, with classrooms and residential spaces at capacity. We do not plan to limit dining options or seating but will maintain the ability for students to take meals to go if they choose.

More about masks

Vaccinations

The best way to take care of ourselves and one another and to beat this virus is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, free, and effective. With the highly transmissible Delta variant now in our community, if you are not vaccinated you are at greater risk of getting sick than you were last year on campus. More information about vaccines, including a vaccination event at Neyland Stadium, is available on the UT website.

Isolation and quarantine

Community heath relies on everyone’s cooperation. Widely available vaccines shift the responsibility for isolation and quarantine arrangements from the institution to the individual.

The university will no longer provide quarantine or isolation housing, meals, or transportation for students who need to isolate or quarantine. As a result, all students in university housing should come back to campus with a plan for where they will stay if they need to isolate or quarantine.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, is in isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or is in quarantine because of COVID-19 exposure must not participate in campus activities, including class and extracurricular activities. Students and employees can get guidance from the COVID-19 support team by completing the COVID-19 self-isolation form.

More on isolation or quarantine and how to make a plan

COVID testing

With vaccines readily available and highly effective at preventing serious illness, we will no longer require or request community saliva testing for COVID-19 as we did in 2020–21. The Student Health Center will continue to provide free and convenient COVID-19 testing for any student. The center also has a supply of free COVID-19 home test kits for student and employee use.

More about testing

Last year, with no vaccines available, we created extensive processes, procedures, and restrictions to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Vaccines now provide excellent protection from serious illness, and the university has shifted its primary focus to providing access to vaccinations and guidance and support to help people in our campus community protect themselves and others.

We will continue to keep our campus informed, and I will resume live updates on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. beginning August 19.

Donde Plowman
Chancellor