Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our community, the changes to the university class schedule to ensure social distancing, and the number of waiver requests we have received to date, we have made the decision to waive on-campus residency requirements for first-year students for the 2020–21 academic year.
We feel this decision is in the best interests of those of you who may prefer to live off campus or at home for your first year. We want all of our students, whether you are a first-year or returning student, to make the choice that is right for you based on current data.
These are difficult considerations and we want to provide you with information to help you make informed decisions.
Canceling a housing contract
You can cancel your housing contract by logging into the University Housing portal, selecting “Manage my housing,” and following the prompts to request cancellation. If you exercise this option by August 5, you will receive an updated statement on August 10 with housing fees removed. If you make a cancellation request after your assigned move-in date, you will receive a prorated refund.
If you wish to stay in the residence hall, you should continue with your existing move-in plans.
Your health and safety and that of our entire community are our first priority. We need your help to have a safe semester and preserve an on-campus experience for everyone. In addition to extensive preparations in classrooms and common areas, we’ve taken a number of precautions related to student health care and arrangements for quarantine and isolation.
Student health care
The university is increasing staffing at our Student Health Center, which will have extended hours, including evenings and weekends. The Student Health Center medical staff will continue to see patients at the health center and can perform COVID-19 testing for students. In addition, the university will have a nurse available to speak to students by phone 24 hours a day. We urge you to call the nurse triage line at 865-974-5080 if you feel sick to discuss your symptoms and arrange an appointment.
The best way to avoid getting sick is by taking preventive measures. You can do this by wearing a face covering, using the university’s health monitoring app daily, not going out when sick, avoiding being within six feet of others for more than 10 minutes, and not attending large gatherings, including off-campus events.
Quarantine and isolation arrangements
There are a number of reasons you may need to quarantine or self-isolate once you are on campus: if you have tested positive for COVID-19, are exhibiting symptoms of a possible COVID-19 infection and awaiting test results, have been exposed to COVID-19 based on close contact with someone else, or need to quarantine based on CDC guidance related to travel. If you fall into any of these categories, it is important that you fill out an online self-isolation form as quickly and accurately as possible so we can work with you to explore your housing arrangements. If you have questions about whether you need to self-isolate, please call the nurse triage line for assistance.
If you live in a residence hall and you need to self-isolate, you may be asked to do so in your own living space, in a university-arranged temporary residential space, or with a caregiver off campus. A limited number of university-arranged temporary residential spaces will be available, most of them off campus. The university will deliver meals to students who have meal plans and are isolating on campus or in a university-arranged off-campus space. The university will also provide transportation for students who live on campus and are isolating in a university-arranged off-campus space.
University staff, in coordination with the Knox County Health Department, will perform contact tracing and routinely contact students who are self-isolating to check on them. The university is not able to provide in-residence medical care, laundry, or cleaning services for self-isolating students. Just as with the flu or any other serious illness, if you need additional support the preferred option will be for you to receive it at home or with their own caregiver off campus.
We continue to work closely with the local health department and monitor case counts and hospital capacity in Knoxville and surrounding communities. We will continue to communicate any necessary updates by email.
The website utk.edu/coronavirus is a resource for all COVID-19-related information, including guides on when to self-isolate, daily health screening, face mask requirements, what to do if sick, and what happens when a COVID-19 case is reported.
We are committed to your health and success, and we have every confidence in our Volunteer community.