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The University of Tennessee announced Monday it would keep all classes online through the end of the semester and May graduation ceremonies will be rescheduled because of coronavirus fears.
While no cases of COVID-19 have been reported at UT at this time, “we know it is only a matter of time before that changes,” UT-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said in an email to the campus.
The number of coronavirus cases in Tennessee reached 52 on Monday, with most cases concentrated near Nashville. There has been one case in Knox County, and Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon declared a state of emergency for the city.
Coronavirus pandemic: You’ve got questions about the University of Tennessee shutdown. We’ve got answers.
Here’s what you need to know about UT canceling in-person classes and events on campus.
How does this affect graduation?
While the graduation ceremonies in May will not be held, spring graduates will have a celebration at a later date.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended no large gatherings for eight weeks. Graduation ceremonies were originally scheduled for May 9, which falls inside that time frame.
On Wednesday, the university tweeted it is “working on plans for a commencement ceremony at a later date.”
“The decision to not hold a May commencement ceremony is difficult for our entire community. … The Class of 2020 will be celebrated and their achievements will be recognized. We will keep you posted on these plans,” the tweet said.
Dates for the postponed ceremony have not been announced.
What does this mean for campus events?
All campus events through the end of the semester have been cancelled. This includes all SEC sporting events and the Orange & White football game.
It also includes the notorious Sex Week, which had been a focal point of controversy, but has become less of an issue in the past year as administrators have increased oversight of spending on the event. Because of COVID-19Sex Week will be moved to the fall 2020 semester.
What does this mean for students who work at the university?
On Monday night, Plowman appeared on the syndicated statewide radio call-in show “Vol Calls” to talk about the university’s response. She said students with on-campus jobs will continue to be paid.
“For students who are employed on campus, no one is going to lose their paycheck,” Plowman said. “We’re probably going to assign people some new responsibilities, but students will still be employed who have jobs on campus.”
What does this mean for students who live on campus?
Students are asked to not return to campus after spring break, and complete online coursework from home. More information will be sent directly to students who live on campus, Plowman said in her email to students.
Students who cannot return to their homes can apply through the University Housing office for an exemption to stay on campus.
“We know there are students who need to stay in the dorms,” Plowman said. “We have international students, we have student athletes, we have students who don’t have a permanent residence, and they’re going to be able to stay.”
I was supposed to tour UT. Now what?
UT is working on setting up virtual tours for prospective students, Plowman said on Monday night. For now, all campus tours have been canceled to avoid gathering a large group of people.