The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has announced plans to return to a fully in-person campus experience this fall.
Planning includes teaching in classrooms at capacity, returning to normal campus housing, reopening dining halls, fully staffing campus student services, offering a comprehensive slate of student events and programming, and allowing more fans at athletic events.
“As case counts continue to drop and vaccines become more readily available, we are nearing a turning point in this pandemic,” Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “We’ve heard time and again from students and members of our faculty how much more effective and meaningful learning can be when we are together in person. I look forward to safely providing that experience again this fall.”
University staff will be working between now and August to prepare. The chancellor notes that she and her leadership team will continue to follow the guidance of local, state, and federal health officials, as they have from the beginning of the pandemic.
“There is nothing more important to me than the health and safety of our campus community,” she said. “We will listen to experts and remain flexible and adaptable throughout our planning as we decide what protocols to put in place this fall.”
The university moved all classes online following spring break last March, around the same time the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In fall 2020, the university reopened under COVID-19 precautions that included reduced capacity in residence halls and classrooms, with both in-person and remote learning courses.
Since last March, the university’s leadership team has been advised by Dr. Spencer Gregg, director of the Student Health Center, and a team of staff and administrators working in the Emergency Operations Center. The university has followed the guidance of health professionals and enforced health and safety procedures on campus.
Working side by side with Knox County Health Department officials, the university has implemented a robust contact tracing program, created a saliva testing lab to support its community testing efforts, offered free and readily available individual COVID-19 tests, and operated vaccine clinics on campus for members of the public.