UTM suspends classes; UTM-Ripley Spring Fling postponed

As Interim UT System President Randy Boyd just announced, the University of Tennessee System, in consultation with the chancellors of all UT campuses, made the decision today to move classes online. Classes at the University of Tennessee at Martin will be suspended on Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13; university offices will remain open. Beginning March 16, all courses will be conducted online through at least April 3. We will continue to communicate throughout this period so that faculty, staff and students know what to expect going forward. Faculty should be prepared to continue online past April 3, should the need arise. The reason for this three-week period is to move beyond the known COVID-19 incubation period.

After careful deliberation and communication with public health officials and our own infectious disease specialists at the UT Health Science Center, we have made a number of other decisions to protect the health of our broader community and those who may be especially vulnerable to this virus:

  • University housing – We ask that residential students leave their rooms by 5 p.m., Friday, March 13. If you live in a residence hall and are not able to return home, you will need to apply for an exemption to remain on campus. The university will provide more detailed instructions in a follow-up email.
  • University events – Beginning March 12, and running through April 5, we are canceling all non-athletic university events, including those hosted by registered student organizations, which involve anticipated gatherings of 50 or more people. Decisions concerning athletic events are being evaluated by the director of athletics in coordination with the chancellor, the Ohio Valley Conference, and NCAA.
  • Study abroad – All UT Martin-sponsored study abroad programs with departure dates prior to June 1 will be suspended. We will reach out to students directly to determine next steps.
  • Research facilities – While we have moved classes online, and are taking significant steps to encourage social distancing, the main campus and centers will remain open.

I understand the hardship that this presents to all of you, and this is not a decision we made lightly. Below is specific information on what you should do to prepare for the weeks ahead. Over the next few days, we will be sending out more detailed information to students, faculty, staff, researchers, and parents.

Students

Again, we are asking students to return to your permanent home, if possible. If you live on campus, please take those things you will need for the next three weeks, especially your course materials. If you are unable to return to your permanent residence, you will need to complete an exemption form. You will receive additional information concerning university housing in a separate email.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty should begin immediately moving all coursework online. Faculty should be prepared to continue with online instruction past April 3, in the event that becomes necessary.

Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and others in supervisory roles should make preparations for continuity of operations while keeping the health and wellness of our employees in mind.

UT Martin will continue normal business operations.  We ask that faculty and staff practice social distancing while on campus. In some cases, this may mean simply shifting meetings to Zoom settings; for others it may include making arrangements for telecommuting where appropriate. 

This situation is being monitored daily and additional guidance will be forthcoming. Please contact Human Resources for support and assistance.

The safety and wellbeing of our UT Martin community remain our top priorities during this challenging situation. We will continue to offer updates, and you can find the latest information at http://www.utm.edu/coronavirus.

Keith S. Carver

Chancellor

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