The University of Tennessee has 28 confirmed coronavirus cases — 20 students and eight employees — and more than 150 in isolation because of close contact or COVID-19 symptoms.
Chancellor Donde Plowman provided an update through a livestream video on Thursday.
Students began moving into dorms over the weekend. Residence halls are not filled to capacity this semester, on purpose. And for the first time, UT is allowing freshmen to live off campus if they choose. Classes begin next week.
UT is requiring masks in public spaces on campus. They’re also having students sit in assigned seating during class to ease contact tracing. Everyone is supposed to log in to an app each morning and go through a checklist about how they’re feeling and submit a temperature reading.
For those sent to quarantine, UT is paying for hotel rooms and apartments off campus for students to isolate for at least 10 days. Administrators are encouraging students to avoid close contact so they lower the risk of needing a precautionary isolation.
The university is also telling students to congregate at a safe distance on campus. They’re setting up tents and stations for hanging hammocks, so they can be together outside.
Plowman says if football proceeds for the fall, which is still an open question, “we will not have tailgating on campus.”
In total, 29,000 students are expected on campus, though many will attend class primarily online. Plowman says there is no set threshold for deciding whether the spring semester would also be on campus, and she says it’s still possible that the university will have to “pivot” to online learning and send students home.