UT transitions to online classes, Tennessee’s confirmed COVID-19 cases increase

New information has surfaced about the coronavirus outbreak, and the virus has officially arrived in Knox County. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has released major decisions regarding precautions against the virus.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Chancellor Donde Plowman recently emailed students, faculty and staff on March 11 to discuss the plans for on-campus classes and events amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. UT System Interim President Randy Boyd consulted with all of the UT chancellors to finalize the decision to move all classes to an online format for a two-week period following spring break. This will take effect March 23 through at least April 3. However, the campus will still be open, which includes the research facilities and labs.

Plowman encouraged students who are currently living on campus to remain at their own primary residence after spring break is over. However, students with extenuating circumstances can file an exemption petition to live on campus during this period. Some of the reasons for petition eligibility include: lack of internet access, having a Knoxville-based job and having international student status.

The precautions extend beyond just UT classes.

According to Plowman’s email, “All UT Knoxville-sponsored study abroad programs with departure dates prior to May 20 will be suspended.”

Additionally, all non-athletic university events that anticipate at least 50 attendees will be canceled for March 16-April 5. Those who have plans to go on a cruise ship will also have obligations upon return.

The email reads, “Any student, faculty or staff who goes on any cruise– no matter the location or itinerary– or travels to an area listed as Level 2 or 3 on the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] COVID-19 travel advisories page must self-isolate for two weeks upon their return home.”

As of March 12, the CDC reported 18 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tennessee. One of those confirmed cases is located in Knox County. The CDC reported that Williamson County has eight confirmed cases, Davidson County has six confirmed cases, Shelby County has two confirmed cases and Sullivan County has one confirmed case.

Plowman also expressed in her email that everyone can find additional updated information about UT’s actions related to the coronavirus online.

Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons

Edited by Donna Mitchell and Grace Goodacre

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