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These are Frequently Asked Questions about university operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This information will be updated as conditions change and new information is available. Questions and comments about this information can be directed to Bud Grimes, Office of University Relations, bgrimes@utm.edu.

  • CARES Act: The Department of Education released funding for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act. UT Martin received more than $2.5 million from these funds to support students facing urgent needs created by the coronavirus pandemic through emergency financial aid grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. This includes eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance. CARES money has been added to students’ accounts and is ready to be accepted. Learn more here.
  • CARES Act Funding-Report and Disclosure:
    Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting
    CARES Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students
    The University of Tennessee at Martin
    30-Day Report and Disclosure
  • Reentry Task Force: Formed to provide guidance on how UT Martin will operate for the 2020 Fall Semester and beyond, a Reentry Task Force submitted to the chancellor its recommendations to all aspects of campus life and operations, including academic schedule alternatives. See the complete list of recommendations and the results of a university reentry survey.
  • Phased Reopening: A phased reopening of select UT Martin offices and UT Martin centers, except for the Jackson Center, is underway; information about the Jackson Center will be announced later. Information about the plan and also guidance for supervisors during this important transition time provide a roadmap for the coming weeks and months.
  • Vaccinations: The UT Board of Trustees approved an emergency resolution during the board’s annual meeting authorizing the University of Tennessee System to require CDC or Department of Health-recommended vaccines for all faculty, staff and students that are deemed to aid in preventing, controlling or monitoring the spread of COVID-19. This will include the flu immunization and could include a COVID vaccine, if one is developed and recommended by the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health. The CDC has recommended the flu vaccine this season because it can help reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and thus lessen the resulting burden on the health-care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The vaccinations requirements are to protect the health and safety of the university community and are based on the advice of public health experts to help decrease the chances of a flu outbreak masking a COVID-19 outbreak. As the CDC has noted, the flu vaccine "will be more important than ever" in the 2020-21 flu season because of the potential for the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 to be spreading at the same time. The COVID immunization would only be required if it’s been medically proven to be safe and effective and it is recommended by the CDC or Tennessee Department of Health.

    Consistent with state law, the University of Tennessee has required certain vaccinations for incoming students for years, and it is important to know that students and employees can be exempted from these requirements if they have a medical, religious, or other reason.

    Here are answers to the common questions about vaccinations:

    Who needs a flu shot?
    All members of the campus community unless they receive an exemption.
    Why are you requiring a flu shot?
    The recommendation was made based on the advice of public health experts who have recommended students, faculty and staff have the seasonal flu immunizations to help decrease the chances of a flu outbreak masking a COVID-19 outbreak.
    Can exemptions be made?
    Yes. Just as we have exemptions for existing vaccination requirements, exemptions will be made for medical, religious or other reasons. More information regarding the exemption processes will be communicated closer to the time vaccinations become available.
    Will you require a COVID-19 vaccination?
    At this time, we do not anticipate a COVID-19 vaccination for the upcoming academic year. The COVID immunization would only be required if it’s been medically proven to be safe and effective and it is recommended by the CDC or Tennessee Department of Health.
    How can I get a flu shot?
    Flu vaccinations may be received at your physician’s office, a local health department or any health-care provider. Also, UT Martin employees and spouses can receive the vaccine during clinics that the Office of Human Resources has tentatively scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 30 in the Boling University Center; there will not be a cost if employees and spouses have insurance. Students will have the opportunity to receive the shot during one of four on-campus clinics but will have to provide insurance or pay for the vaccination. The flu vaccine will be available for students in September at the clinics arranged by Student Health and Counseling Services.
    When will students, faculty and staff need to have their flu shot?
    We are asking members of the university community to have the shot before the start of the spring semester in January 2021.

Safety

NOTE – These guidelines for UT Martin were adapted from the UT Knoxville Facilities Services Guidelines published May 6, 2020.

  • Cleaning and Disinfecting: The UT Martin Physical Plant Custodial area follows the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency for facility cleaning and disinfecting in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Throughout the recent weeks of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, the Physical Plant has monitored the CDC cleaning recommendations.

    For higher education, the CDC specifically recommends routine disinfecting and cleaning of surfaces and objects that are frequently touched using the cleaners typically used according to the directions on the label. The CDC cites that most EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

    Physical Plant custodial staff members have historically been trained on proper cleaning procedures. This includes not only how to properly clean but also in the identification and handling of cleaning chemicals in accordance with EPA guidelines. The custodial staff uses quaternary cleaner and health-care grade disinfectants daily. These cleaners are a Spartan- manufactured chemical labeled as NABC, HDQ2, and TC-CIDE Quat. Per CDC guidelines, surfaces are cleaned before disinfection to ensure that disinfectant material reaches the surface. All of these protocols have been continued and re-emphasized as a part of the custodial area’s effort to ensure the safest environment for the campus occupants.

    The Physical Plant has recently purchased a Clorox Total 360 Cleaning system, which hydrostatically charges the disinfecting solution to cover all hard and soft surfaces. The custodial department also uses a fogger to apply disinfectant material. To further enhance campus safety, the custodial department disinfectants high-touch surfaces during every custodial shift.

    Custodial employees wear personal protective equipment while cleaning and disinfecting. While administering disinfectant solutions in the fogger or Clorox 360 machine, gloves, safety glasses, face coverings and possibly Tyvek suits are used. Normal cleaning personal protective equipment includes gloves and safety masks. Face coverings are worn in accordance with campus protocol requirements.

    If an area becomes contaminated, CDC guidelines will be used to disinfectant the affected area. Special attention is given to the proper personal protective equipment by the custodial department during the cleaning process. The affected area will be thoroughly cleaned. After this cleaning, the Clorox 360 machine will be used to disinfectant the area. The affected area will be reopened after the disinfectant products have had time to kill any germs/bacteria.

    The physical plant custodial department will continue to stay abreast of changing CDC and EPA guidance for cleaning and will make adjustments as needed to provide the safest environment for the campus.
  • Masks: Faculty, staff and students are required to wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing is not possible, including brief interactions with others, at the main campus and five centers. Information about cloth face coverings is found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visitors must come to campus with a cloth face covering and be prepared to wear it during meetings and social interactions where social distancing is not possible.
  • Signage: A plan for university COVID-19 signage is being developed for the 2020 fall semester. The plan will include sign design, messaging and placement.

Academics

  • 2020 Fall Semester: The first day of classes for the 2020 Fall Semester is moved to Aug. 17, and the last day of classes will be Tuesday, Nov. 24. Fall break has been canceled, and classes will also be held on Labor Day. Final exams will take place online after Thanksgiving.
  • 2020 Fall Semester Class Delivery: Almost half of the classes offered this fall will include an in-person component as part of the university’s reentry plan. For courses that have an in-person component, faculty members are aligning course delivery with recommended spacing and safety measures. For example, hybrid classes can be offered in several ways, such as dividing a class of 30 or fewer students into subgroups and alternating in-person and online sessions. Faculty members are participating in a series of summer online teaching methodology workshops offered by the university to better prepare for online instruction.
  • Summer Internships: UT Martin is running internships this summer but will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to determine if internships need to be altered.
  • Graduate Programs: The application deadlines for most UT Martin graduate programs have been extended. For information, email graduatestudies@utm.edu or call 731-881-7012.
  • 2020 Summer Classes:: All 2020 Summer Semester classes are offered online. The on-campus course cost applies for summer classes.
  • Mandatory Fees for Summer Courses: Mandatory fees support multiple services and programs students use throughout the year and will be charged for online summer courses. The costs of these services are projected for an annual period and shared among students who attend the university during any given semester and are not term specific. They cover a variety of areas and provide resources and access to many services. Although students may not be taking class in a physical space over the summer, departments are still operating, which includes providing as many services as possible in an online format.
  • Dropping courses or withdrawing from the university after the drop deadline: Students who can verify one of the following situations may drop a single course or multiple courses or withdraw from the university after the drop deadline:
    1. Serious illness or injury of the student as verified by Student Health and Counseling Center or private physician;
    2. Serious personal or family problems as verified by a minister, physician or other appropriate professional; or
    3. Necessary change in work schedule, which conflicts with the class being dropped, as verified by the student’s employer submitted in writing on company letterhead.
    The course(s) must be dropped or withdrawal completed before the last day of class or administration of the final exam, whichever comes first. Following approval by the student’s adviser, registrar, and in the case of withdrawal the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, a grade of “W” will be recorded for each course. Additional information can be found in the Drop, Add, and Withdrawal from the “University” section of the 2019-2020 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.
  • Senior Exit Exams Waiver for Summer 2020 Graduates: UT Martin's Faculty Senate working with Academic Affairs approved a waiver of the Senior Exit Exams baccalaureate degree requirement for all 2020 spring and summer semester graduating students. The two exams included in the waiver are the general education proficiency test (also referred to as the GenEd Exam or ETS Proficiency Exam) and the major field test required for every major. Students who will graduate this semester and had not completed one or both tests will be exempt from that graduation requirement. Students who are scheduled to graduate in fall 2020 and who had scheduled appointments with the UT Martin Testing Center during the time all classes were moved online will need to reschedule their appointment when students are allowed to return to campus.

Events

  • Campus Tours: Campus tours for prospective students and their families will resume Monday, July 13. Contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 731-881-7020.
  • Summer Camps: All UT Martin group camps are canceled for summer 2020.
  • Fall Registration Events: UT Martin will hold all 2020 Summer Orientation and Registration – and Transfer Orientation sessions – virtually this summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Remaining SOARS are July 10 and 28, and August 7. The remaining Transfer Orientation is July 16. For information, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 731-881-7020.
  • Tennessee Soybean Festival: The 27th Annual Tennessee Soybean Festival, planned for Sept. 5-12, 2020, has been canceled. The university is a co-sponsor of the annual festival, which is scheduled to be held Sept. 4-11, 2021.

Financial Aid

The U.S. Department of Education is providing guidance during the COVID-19 crisis, and regulatory relief is being reviewed frequently by Congress. Any changes will be posted in this FAQ. This information was last updated June 11, 2020.

General

Q. What do I need to do if I need to talk to someone in the UT Martin Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships?
All the financial aid staff will be available at 731-881-7040 and financialaid@utm.edu, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. UT Martin financial aid staff emails are listed here: Financial Aid Staff.
Q. How do Incompletes impact financial aid/scholarships? What would happen if a student takes an “I” in all of their classes for the semester?
When we run our process at the end of term to determine satisfactory academic progress (SAP), it will be counted as attempted hours, not earned. If their overall cumulative GPA drops below 2.0 or if their pace drops below 67% earned of attempted hours, they will fail SAP and would be ineligible for aid until they either get an approved appeal (reasons related to COVID-19 will be appealable without documentation) or their pace and GPA meet the standard once their incomplete course is completed.
Q. My household income has significantly changed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Is there anything I can do to update my 2020-21 FAFSA?
You can request the financial aid office review your information through a process called Professional Judgment due to special circumstances. We ask that you do not open your FAFSA to make corrections related to this. We will do it for you, pending the outcome of your request. To get the best picture of your financial situation, we are asking that you wait until mid-June before requesting a Professional Judgment. At that time, please complete and submit a Request for Professional Judgment, 2020-21 Form found at www.utm.edu/faforms. For more information, please contact us via email at financialaid@utm.edu.
Q. Will there be leniency when calculating HOPE/Lottery GPA during this time?
Tennessee has passed a ruling to allow schools leniency on Lottery GPA calculations during this time.
When calculating your Lottery GPA at the end of spring semester, UT Martin will consider either your prior term (for most of you, fall 2019) cumulative Lottery GPA, or the calculated spring 2020 cumulative Lottery GPA, whichever is best for you.
For those in Provisional mode, we will similarly use either your prior term (for most of you, fall 2019) semester Lottery GPA, or the calculated spring 2020 semester Lottery GPA, whichever is best for you.
Q. Since all of my classes for spring moved online, I’m worried about my academic performance for Satisfactory Academic Progress. What should I do?
Reasons related to COVID-19 will be taken into consideration when evaluating your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). If, at the end of the semester, you’ve been held for SAP you can file an appeal. Failure to meet SAP due to COVID-19 will be an acceptable basis for an appeal.

Aid disbursement and refund checks

Q. Will aid posting and refund checks be delayed during this time?
Financial Aid processing and refund checks have not changed, but if you have not already signed up for Direct Deposit, it is strongly suggested you do this so you can receive your refund quicker and without having to go to the bank and cash the mailed check. If you do not have Direct Deposit set up, a check will be mailed to the address you have on file. Visit www.utm.edu/bursar for more information on setting up Direct Deposit.

Federal Student Loans

Q. I have a Federal Direct loan and cannot make payments right now because I am not working. Is there anything that I can do?
President Trump signed the COVID-19 Relief Package March 27, 2020. This package will suspend payments and interest accrual on federal Direct Loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) held by ED until Sept. 30, 2020. The bill will also count each month of suspended loan payments as if the borrower had made a payment for the purpose of income-driven repayment plan loan forgiveness or Public Service Loan Forgiveness, as well as for loan rehabilitation purposes. Suspended payments are to be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies as regularly scheduled payments made by the borrower.
Involuntary collections such as wage garnishment, tax refund reductions, and reductions of federal benefits like Social Security benefits will also be suspended until Sept. 30, 2020.
The bill requires the Department of Education, within 15 days of enactment, to inform borrowers of the temporary suspension and of their option to continue to make payments. The bill also requires the Department of Education to send six notices to borrowers, beginning on Aug. 1, 2020, informing them that the temporary suspension period is ending, and reminding them of their obligation to resume repayment. Those notices will be required to include information about income-driven plans.

Private Student Loans

Q. I have Private Student Loans. Is there any relief being offered on these payments?
If you have Private Student Loans, you are encouraged to reach out to your lender to see if they are offering any relief. Since these are private loans, the federal government cannot mandate any changes to them; however, many are offering relief to student/parent borrowers, so it would be a good idea to contact your lender.

Security, Services and Access

All academic building doors are now locked 24/7 to ensure proper security. This is an added security measure because of fewer people in main-campus buildings.

  • Boling University Center: The Boling University Center’s north patio door is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Barnes & Noble Bookstore: The bookstore is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Textbooks should be ordered online and will be fulfilled by the Barnes & Noble warehouse.
  • Computer Store: The Computer Store is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Elam Center Swimming Pool: The Elam Center swimming pool is closed through July 2020.
  • Fitness Trail: The Fitness Trail is open for walking and running. Fitness Trail users are encouraged to use good social-distancing practices and to avoid group activities on the trail.
  • Help Desk Hours:
    • Monday-Friday: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. (checking email and voicemail).
    • Saturday and Sunday: 12 p.m.-5 p.m. (phone support); 5 p.m.-9 p.m. (checking email and voicemail).
    • Contact the Help Desk at 731-881-7900 or helpdesk@utm.edu.
  • Hotspots: Verizon hotspots are available for loan through the CARES Act grant to students who are enrolled in a summer course and do not have internet access. Students should call the Help Desk at 731-881-7900 to request a Verizon hotspot.
  • Hortense Parrish Writing Center: The Hortense Parrish Writing Center remains open and has converted its tutoring process to a distance-learning format in order to continue assisting students during the COVID-19 outbreak. All services provided by the center are free.
    1. The center now works by appointment. To schedule appointments, contact the center by email at OWL@utm.edu. Students will need to remember to request appointments in advance because it takes about 24 hours to collect their information and pair them with tutors. However, the appointment format also means that students can request multiple appointments far in advance, and they will likely receive the exact times they want if they do so. As always, our students are rewarded if they plan ahead.
    2. The center offers three tutoring services: email correspondence, phone appointments, and Zoom appointments.
    3. Note: Phone and Zoom sessions are more effective than emails. A tutoring conversation is faster, more productive, and requires much more engagement from students. It’s recommended that if faculty members want to require students to complete a writing center appointment, consider that students are required do so by phone or Zoom.
    4. The center can still give session reports, but the reporting system has changed due to the pandemic. If you wish to receive reports, email Dr. Kelle Alden or the OWL, and you’ll be placed on a list to receive them.
    5. The center has been hard at work making educational materials and planning online events! Dr. Alden will send emails to advertise these events, and anyone can follow the center on Facebook or Instagram to receive updates on important matters. Faculty members who have an idea for an event or handout are encouraged to reach out to the center.
    For more information about the Hortense Parrish Writing Center, contact Dr. Kelle Alden at kalden@utm.edu.
  • Paul Meek Library: The Paul Meek Library is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Librarians will continue to monitor CHAT, and the 24-hour lab will be open. Social distancing will be practiced. The library’s 24/7 computer lab remains open, and students have access to the library’s online services.
  • Perry Children’s Center: The Perry Children’s Center began a phased reopening June 1.
  • Student Health and Counseling Services: Student Health and Counseling Services continues to be available for current students who have remained in the local area. Students who have appointments with Student Health and Counseling Services should call ahead to 731-881-7750 to confirm a scheduled visit.
  • Student Recreation Center: The Student Recreation Center is closed until further notice.
  • Testing Center: The UT Martin Testing Center is open weekly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for appointments only – no walk-ins. Please read and adhere to the following requirements to enter the Testing Center:
    For the safety concerns of our staff and all candidates, every candidate is required to bring and wear a mask or face covering while in the UT Martin Testing Center.
    By appearing to test, you attest that you:
    • Have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or exhibited any symptoms within the last 14 days.
    • Have not been in close personal contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis within the last 14 days.
    • Have not exhibited any flu-like symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within the last 14 days.
    • Have not traveled abroad within the last 14 days.
    If you cannot attest to all the above, you will not be permitted to enter the UT Martin Testing Center. Please reschedule your appointment for a time when you have met the above parameters.

Student Workers

  • Displaced Student Worker Fund: This fund is helping students who are not Federal Work-Study and are not working in their university jobs because of the crisis. You can make a gift at www.utmforever.com/helpahawk.

Teleworking

  • Employees who can successfully telework from home are encouraged to continue limiting hours in the office. Physical presence on the main campus and at the centers should be determined by what is required to fulfill job responsibilities and in-person service for the department or office. Teleworking is preferred until notification by the Office of the Chancellor that the university is collectively moving into the next phase of reintegration back to campus and the centers.

    Essential personnel working on the main campus and the centers should continue to practice precautionary measures such as hand washing, wearing masks and social distancing.

Travel

  • Due to current and foreseeable budget constraints, university travel is only permissible if it is essential and pre-approved by a vice chancellor or chancellor until further notice. The pre-approval by the vice chancellor or chancellor must be attached to the travel reimbursement request before it will be processed.

    Out of an abundance of caution to protect university employees and students, it is recommended that employees who are traveling overnight for out-of-state travel, whether personal or professional, self-quarantine for 14 calendar days upon returning home before going back to work. This protocol does not apply to an employee’s home residence that is in another state. Employees are responsible for discussing qualifying travel with their supervisor.

    Employees should be aware of the current virus statistics when traveling within Tennessee or for day trips to other states. If exposure to the virus is suspected, employees should also quarantine for 14 calendar days before returning to work.

Additional Information and Resources

 

General Overview

Among the many questions being asked is the availability of testing for the virus. In response to growing concern, the Tennessee Department of Health has now authorized COVID-19 testing seven days per week. The department’s website is www.tn.gov/health and the public information line is 1-877-857-2945.

The University of Tennessee System has also created an informational website that includes expert resources at each campus and unit. Visit the website at tennessee.edu/coronavirus.

  • UTM has no reports of coronavirus disease 2019 cases.
  • Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) is following CDC recommendations for screenings.
  • According to the CDC:
SHCS Support and Management Coronavirus Disease Resources