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Federal COVID-19 Vaccine and Mask Mandates

Dear colleagues,

As I communicated last week, I am following up with additional information related to President Biden’s Executive Order 14042. As a federal contractor, we are moving forward today to implement the federal executive order as required. The situation could change at any moment dependent upon pending decisions by the courts, and we will keep you updated.

We have determined that the federal vaccine mandate applies to nearly all UT Knoxville buildings and the people who work in them—including UTIA and UTSI facilities and employees—except athletics facilities, residence halls and Greek houses, recreational sports facilities, and a small number of other nonacademic buildings. The federal mandate covers full-time, part-time, temporary, and student employees, except those whose primary workplace falls into one of the exceptions noted above.

The federal mandate does not require any student who is not employed by the university to be vaccinated.

What this means for you

If you are vaccinated, please upload your proof of vaccination into IRIS.

If you are not vaccinated, please begin the vaccination process or request a medical or religious exemption.

The federal deadline to be fully vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption is January 18, 2022. To be fully vaccinated by January 18, you must receive your second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or your single dose of Johnson & Johnson, by January 4, 2022. The university is committed to making the process as easy as possible to assist our employees.

We understand that you may have questions. You can contact Human Resources at 865-974-9976 or for assistance with uploading your information or requesting a medical or religious exemption.


In addition to federal vaccine requirements, Executive Order 14042 removes the university’s decision-making authority related to masks for buildings covered by the federal mandate. Consistent with the requirements of the executive order, the university will follow CDC mask guidance for covered buildings, which is dependent on the level of community spread and vaccination status. The mandate also requires the university to post signage outside all covered buildings outlining mask requirements, and the university will update mask signage as necessary.

At this time, masks are required in covered buildings.

With court cases pending, this remains a fluid situation. We will continue to keep you updated. Thank you for all you are doing in support of our students and our university. I wish each of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Donde Plowman