The University of Tennessee will continue online classes through the end of the semester and will have alternate graduation plans because of concerns about the coronavirus, the university announced on Monday.
Traditional graduation ceremonies have been canceled for May.
“In an effort to avoid further disruption for our students, faculty and staff, we will move instruction entirely online for the remainder of the spring semester,” said interim System President Randy Boyd. “In addition, commencement ceremonies will not be held in May. Each campus is looking at alternative commencement options at this time.”
Alternate graduation plans have not been announced. All campus events have been canceled in order to avoid large group gatherings.
“These are difficult decisions that we did not make lightly,” UT-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said in an email to the UT campus. “Our graduates were looking forward to commencement with their families; our other students wanted to finish the year together on campus; and all of you, our faculty and staff, put tremendous time and effort into your curriculum and your work to support our mission.”
As of Monday evening, there were 52 cases of coronavirus reported in Tennessee. One case has been reported in Knox County. Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon declared a state of emergency on Monday in response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
There are no reports of COVID-19 on UT-Knoxville’s campus, Plowman said, but “we know it is only a matter of time before that changes.”
Plowman emphasized taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including social distancing.
“What we do in the coming weeks and months will define us forever,” Plowman said. “This is an opportunity to show what it truly means to be a Volunteer — to make sacrifices for the greater good, to shadow ourselves and give light to others.”