The University of Tennessee at Martin is monitoring and responding to the coronavirus outbreak for the safety and health of our community and the state of Tennessee. Questions and comments can be directed to Bud Grimes, Office of University Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can learn about the latest quarantine guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
UT Martin will continue to follow current CDC and Tennessee Department of Health quarantine and isolation guidelines. Student Health and Counseling Services will conduct contact tracing for known student cases, and employees can consult with Human Resources.
Information Current 9-14-2021
The university plans to continue in-person classes, but pandemic conditions are monitored continually.
University COVID-19 numbers are only as good as the information provided. Report concerns to Student Health and Counseling, Student Affairs for the UTM Care Team, and follow the advice of health-care providers.
If you know of a faculty member who is not enforcing the mask mandate in class, please let the provost or the appropriate dean know about it so that the situation can be addressed directly.
Faculty members who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are vaccinated would not be required to quarantine if there are no symptoms. Those who are unvaccinated and are determined to be close contact should follow guidance from their health-care provider. Any faculty member who is experiencing symptoms or tests positive should quarantine for the time period determined by their health-care provider. In situations where a faculty member cannot meet their classes, they should talk with their department chair about the best way to manage each class for the duration of the quarantine.
Dr. Andy Lewter, vice chancellor for student affairs, sent a document to students (10 Truths about COVID) to reinforce the ways that we can mitigate the risk of contracting COVID. UT Martin’s Instagram and Snapchat (the most popular social platforms for our students) include official posts at least once every two weeks encouraging students to wear masks and how to properly wear them. Chancellor Keith Carver will appear in a video about masks and proper mask wearing in the coming weeks.
The Student Health and Counseling Center staff manages the contact tracing process. Faculty or staff members who are interested in assisting with that process should contact Shannon Deal, the center director.
The Student Health and Counseling Center coordinates the contact-tracing process. In that role, the center has been responsible for alerting students who needed to be quarantined for various periods of time. Anything that faculty members are willing to do to identify who was in class on a given day helps the center in their contact- tracing work.
Faculty members who have very tight classrooms should discuss this with their department chair and the dean to see if there are any options for moving the class. During most course timeslots, moving courses to larger classrooms is not possible.
If a faculty member hears that a student has tested positive off campus but has not reported it, the faculty member can contact Shannon Deal in Student Health and Counseling or Edie Gibson in the Office of the Chancellor to report the positive student.
Unless a student explicitly gives permission to share his or her positive results, the university is not permitted to do so. The only option, therefore, is to tell those attending the class that there is a positive case, which alerts unvaccinated students that they might consider getting tested. Students who have been vaccinated would have a very low risk of contracting COVID-19.
We all recognize that the conditions created by the pandemic have changed course dynamics in myriad ways, and some students may show their frustration in their course evaluations. As with so many other issues related to the pandemic, university leadership from the chancellor and provost to deans and department chairs will take the pandemic into account when interpreting course evaluation data.
At this point, it is unlikely that we will be able to require students, faculty or staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The governor and the state legislature have made it clear that they strongly oppose any vaccine mandate.
Last year, all faculty members who had an in-person course component for a class were required to run a parallel online class. There is no requirement to do that this year. Instead, we have encouraged faculty members to work with students to keep them in class while they are quarantined or isolated. In the first two weeks of classes, we had a string of days where just over 200 students were in quarantine. While that's a significant number, it's a relatively small percentage of the overall on-campus student population. We think it makes the most sense to give faculty members the discretion to work with students in ways that fit their courses specifically.
As we have done throughout the pandemic, UT campuses will make any changes to course delivery together as a UT System. Faculty members cannot decide on their own to move courses online. If a faculty member has a health issue, he or she should talk with the department chair and dean about options for managing courses.
This is a staffing situation, as well as related to information availability during weekends. Occasional weekend updates will be made as conditions warrant.
The university intends to accurately portray the university’s masking requirements. Activities in enclosed spaces will normally show people wearing masks and social distancing as much as possible; outdoor activities are less restricted, and video and photos reflect this. The university recommends masks when social distancing isn’t possible. No situation is perfect but contact Bud Grimes with concerns or suggestions about the university’s official social media accounts.
Information Current 9-21-2021
Any student (including undocumented or international) who is or was enrolled at UT Martin during the COVID-19 national emergency may be eligible for financial aid grants through HEERF, regardless of whether they completed a FAFSA or are Title IV eligible. However, UTM must prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive a Pell Grant or are undergraduates with exceptional financial circumstances.
Students who are or were enrolled on or after March 13, 2020, who demonstrate exceptional need due to COVID-19.
Initial CARE awards are made through an automated process based on the student’s Pell Grant eligibility and unmet need. Any student who does not receive the initial CARE award is encouraged to complete the CARE application to demonstrate their need. Students may choose whether they would like their awards added onto their student account or disbursed directly to them. CARE funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
CARE awards can be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to COVID, such as tuition, food, housing, health care, or childcare. Students have the option to have the emergency grants refunded to them or directly onto their account.
The UT Martin Office of Student Conduct and Care has created this guidance document to assist faculty members in developing and maintaining a positive learning environment in their classrooms. This guidance can be applied to a range of situations that faculty members may experience, including COVID-19 requirements. (Updated August 2021)
Set clear standards of behavior: Setting clear standards of behavior at the beginning of a course is a powerful deterrent to inappropriate behavior. Faculty members might consider stating their expectations for classroom behavior at the beginning of the course, as well as in their syllabus.
Sample Syllabi Language: "Students are expected to wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times while in an instructional space (classroom), when instruction is occurring. These requirements are in place to promote the health and safety of the entire university community."
Address the behavior: When students don’t meet the classroom standards of behavior, i.e., not wearing a mask during class, it is important to confront the behavior as soon as possible.
Identify the inappropriate behavior and ask if there is a reason for lack of compliance. Explain how it is disruptive to the rest of the class, and request that it not be repeated. To keep the situation from escalating, the student should always be treated with respect and courtesy.
If the behavior continues, request the student leave the class: Faculty members have the authority to request that a disruptive student leave a class for the remainder of the class period.
If a faculty member does not feel comfortable requesting that a disruptive student leave the class, or if the student refuses to do so, the faculty member may contact the Office of Student Conduct and Care for assistance at (731) 881-7703 or dismiss the class for the day.
If a disruptive student appears to be highly agitated and on the verge of violent behavior, avoid confrontation. Consider dismissing the class. Contact UT Martin Department of Public Safety at 731-881-7777. Do not attempt to use force or threats of force except for self-defense.
Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 (in isolation) or who were identified as a “close contact” (in quarantine) will miss in-person classes anywhere between 1 and 17 days, depending on when Student Health is notified and the nature of the student’s situation.
The official notice that a student will miss in-person classes comes through an email from Student Affairs. You should receive this notice within 24 hours of Student Health being notified.
If a student notifies you that they need to miss class because of COVID, but you have not received an official email, please ask the student to complete this “Student COVID-19 Notification Form”
Students missing class because of isolation or quarantine are asked to contact you to find a way to continue participating in your class while they are isolated or quarantined. This might include Zoom or assignments through Canvas. Please work with the student to find a way to stay engaged in your class.
Thank you for your assistance, and please let me know if you have additional questions. (Contact: Dr. Andy Lewter, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 731-881-7710, email@example.com.)
Senior Exit Exams for Fall 2021: Effective Fall 2021 senior testing requirements will be reinstated, and all students will be required to complete both the General Education – Proficiency Profile and the major field exams.
2021 Fall Semester: Fall semester classes began on August 23. Fall break scheduled for October 18 and 19. The last day of classes will be December 3, and final exams will begin December 6. Courses will be delivered primarily in person, except for those that were typically offered online prior to the pandemic.
Testing and Notification of Positive COVID-19 Cases: This FAQ addresses questions about positive COVID-19 testing and notification.
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:
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II) is authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260, signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. UT Martin received funds to ensure learning continues for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The institution was allocated $2.5 million for additional financial aid grants to students. Learn more about the student distribution.
The supplemental grant awarded to UT Martin of $6.4 million may be used for funds for Institutional Costs to defray expenses associated with coronavirus (including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll); carry out student support activities authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) that address needs related to coronavirus; and make additional financial grants to students, which may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care), or child care.
The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III) is authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), Public Law 117-2, signed into law on March 11, 2021, providing over $7.5 million in support to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ARP funds are in addition to funds authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), Public Law 116-260 and the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Public Law 116-136. Emergency funds available to institutions and their students under all emergency funds total $7.9 million for UT Martin.
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.
Academic buildings will be open during the day. The building lockup process generally starts around 7 p.m.; buildings may need to remain open after 7 p.m. based on evening/night class schedules, use, and activity. Recreational facilities will be open to all registered students during operating hours, although hours might be more limited than in the past.
We continue to encourage all students and staff to consider receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 and will help protect you without having to be sick. Vaccination is especially important for adults with underlying conditions because these individuals are at an increased risk from severe illness from COVID-19.
Vaccination against COVID-19 has several benefits. After you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can start to do some things you have stopped doing because of the pandemic and, if you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you have symptoms. You still should continue taking steps to protect yourself and others.
Thank you for everything you do to help the UT Martin community stay well.
How do we know if COVID-19 vaccines are safe? COVID-19 vaccines were tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards. Many people were recruited to participate in these trials to see how the vaccines offers protection to people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, as well as those with different medical conditions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully reviews all safety data from clinical trials and an authorizes emergency vaccine use only when the expected benefits outweigh potential risks. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviews all safety data before recommending any COVID-19 vaccine for use in the U.S. population. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, to make sure even very rare side effects are identified.
Messenger RNA or mRNA Vaccines (COVID-19 vaccines): mRNA vaccines are being held to the same safety and efficacy standards as all other types of vaccines in the United States. The only COVID-19 vaccines the FDA will make available for use in the United States are those that meet these standards. While there are currently no licensed mRNA vaccines in the United States, researchers have been studying and working with them for decades. mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.
Does getting sick with COVID-19 provide better protection than the vaccine gives? Both COVID-19 and the vaccines are new. We do not know how long protection lasts for those who get infected or for those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice. If I have tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered, do I need to be vaccinated? Yes, even if you have already had COVID-19 you should be vaccinated. Experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Not all people who are infected with Sars-CoV-2 develop COVID-19; however, even the asymptomatic can transmit the virus to others. (Source - Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center)
Thank you for your assistance, cooperation and understanding as we all work to keep the university safe.
The following resources are offered by the Tennessee Department of Health: