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Return to Campus: Guidance for Faculty

Updated: May 10, 2021


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture will resume full operations in Fall 2021. To prepare for the resumption of full operations in the fall, employees will return to work on June 1, 2021. Please see these guidelines from Human Resources for additional information about UTK’s return to work plans, including information about expectations regarding staffing.

Below, the Office of the Provost has outlined fall semester expectations for our faculty and guidance for returning to the face-to-face classroom. Please check this page regularly, as this will be our main source for fall semester operation updates. 


Classrooms and Teaching Considerations

Teaching

  • With the exception of online programs and courses that existed prior to the pandemic, it is expected that courses will be taught in person or as an asynchronous online course. As we return to offering our students a full residential educational experience, we expect the vast majority of classes will be taught in-person.
  • All in-person classes will be delivered in full-capacity classrooms.
  • Whether a course is to be offered in person or asynchronously online will be decided by the department head or designee in conversation with the faculty member. Reasons for offering courses that were previously taught in person online should be pedagogical and part of the unit’s larger long-term plan to offer online courses.
  • In courses with multiple sections, especially lower-level courses, it is expected that the majority will be offered in person. Exceptions to this expectation must be approved by the dean of the college. Modality options other than those outlined here require approval by the dean.

Student Attendance

  • Students will be expected to attend in-person classes unless they have an approved official accommodation from Student Disability Services or an excused absence, either from the instructor or the Dean of Students. The Office of Student Success will continue to notify faculty when a student cannot attend class in person because of potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Faculty are expected to be clear about their attendance policies and are encouraged to work with students to help them make up any work they might have missed. UTK Teaching and Learning Innovation has provided example syllabus language regarding absences.
  • Faculty teaching in-person classes are not required to live-stream their courses, but are encouraged to record their lectures if appropriate and make them available to students.  It is important to the overall health of the campus community that students are able to stay home without penalty if they have symptoms of any illness.  The availability of disinfecting wipes and antimicrobial treatments in the classrooms and at other locations around campus will be maintained until further notice.

College and Departmental Considerations

Colleges and departments are encouraged to establish their own guidelines with respect to faculty and student campus presence outside of classroom instruction and expectations regarding participation mode in the context of meetings and other departmental and college events and activities.

Accommodations

Faculty who would like to request work-related accommodations related to a disability should contact the Office of Equity and Diversity (oed@utk.edu) or by phone at 974-2498. Please note that there is no limit on how many disability-related accommodations employees can make during their time at UTK.

Research

  • All faculty, students, postdocs, and staff should continue to pursue their research, scholarship, and creative work while implementing practices that are attentive to public health.
  • The Office of Research and Engagement and the UT AgResearch Office remain open and operational, and staff remain available to provide support to the university community.
  • Faculty researchers must continue to maintain approved health and safety plans, and the research community must follow these plans and other guidelines described on the ORE website, see https://research.utk.edu/covid-19/research-operations-during-covid-19/.

Travel

All members of the UT community are able to travel internationally; however, they must follow the exception process currently in place. If you are traveling to a country that is listed by the State Department or the CDC as a level 3 or 4 country, please complete the form found at this link: https://cge.utk.edu/travel/international-travel-warning-petition-for-faculty-and-staff/

  1. Travelers must check the country guidelines for entry and they must follow testing guidelines for their return to the U.S.
  2. The Center for Global Engagement encourages all travelers to be fully vaccinated before traveling. Please be sure to register all international travel prior to departure. That can be done at this link: Faculty and Staff International Travel Registration. Please contact CGE for new information regarding travel insurance and 24/7 travel assistance. This is new coverage that will be provided to all business travelers. We want to be sure you have the relevant insurance cards and access phone numbers. For more information please contact Peggy Myers at pmyers1@utk.edu .

Safety and Wellness

  • Contract tracing will remain in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Masking requirements and other health and safety measures will be decided as August draws closer. We will update you as decisions are made about health and safety protocols.
  • The Daily Health Self Screening app may be used as a tool but will no longer be required as of June 1, unless an employee is symptomatic and needs to complete a Self-Isolation Form. Similarly, visitors will no longer be required to complete a self-assessment form, but should not enter university locations if they are symptomatic.
  • Remember resources and supports such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 855-437-3486, here4tn.com, and the 865-946-CARE (2273) hotline for distressed faculty and staff are available. Supervisors or departmental leadership should be consulted with health/safety concerns.