The primary goals for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are to protect the health and safety of our stakeholders and continue the institution’s critical mission of excellence in education, embracing diversity and inclusion, inspiring positive change and enriching and sustaining our community. As such, UTC’s policies, guidelines and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are rooted in safety for employees, students and the community we serve, and they support our mission throughout the UTC Phased Reintegration Plan. The key strategies are:
- Staffing: Increase on-site staffing incrementally to support operational needs.
- Innovation: Continue and expand innovative workplace practices, design and scheduling.
- Hygiene: Incorporate CDC-recommended hygiene practices into cultural norms.
- Health Monitoring: Monitor health to ensure the well-being of our campus community.
UTC’s plans will also be aligned and consistent with local orders and ordinances of the City of Chattanooga and state government, as well as the UT System phased reintegration model. Plans will follow recommendations from the federal government opening guidelines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Hamilton County Health Department and the UTC Fall 2020 Task Force.
All employees are expected to fully comply with protocols and guidelines outlined in this document, which are aligned with the UTC Interim COVID-19 Policies. Knowledge and understanding of the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, and policies and plans will be updated as more information becomes available.
Updated September 7, 2021
Jump to a topic covered on this page:
- Preventing the Spread of Illness
- Workplace Expectations and Guidelines
- Staying Informed
- Health Monitoring and Reporting Requirements
- Health and Safety Protocol Requirements
- Telecommuting Arrangements
Preventing the Spread of Illness
The virus has been found to spread in similar ways as the seasonal flu – by airborne droplets and aerosols and by contact with surfaces or someone else’s hands and being introduced into your eyes, nose or mouth inadvertently during daily activities. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid someone who has the virus and practice good protective measures. If you are in an area with a high number of cases, best practices require maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others, avoiding close contact (no shaking hands, hugging) and washing hands with soap and water when possible. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content is recommended.
Frequently cleaning hands, avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth without clean hands, and maintaining social distancing of six feet or more are the best ways to prevent spread of the virus and are even more important if you are in an outbreak area.
The CDC encourages those not vaccinated to wear masks outside when social distancing is not possible and to wear masks inside buildings except when in private spaces such as in their individual offices.
COVID-19 Symptoms Source: CDC
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
Understandably, members of the UTC community may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety at this time. Employees who feel anxious or worried about friends and family because of the coronavirus are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, which is available to help. Call 855-437-3486 or visit here4tn.com.
Additional resources, including (a) Your State Medical Insurance and COVID-19; (b) How to Use Telehealth; and (c) Mail Order Pharmacy Benefits, are available on the Partners for Health website or on this Coronavirus Benefits Information PDF.
Workplace Expectations and Guidelines
- Monitor utc.edu/coronavirus/ for important campus updates
- Check your UTC email regularly for important communications
Health Monitoring and Reporting Requirements
REPORTING ILLNESS, EXPOSURE CONCERNS OR TRAVEL
Regardless of vaccination status, if an employee reports:
- Having been in close contact with someone who has symptoms consistent with or a diagnosis of COVID-19
- Having symptoms compatible with COVID-19
- Traveled by cruise ship in the last 14 days
- Traveled internationally in the last 14 days
Then he or she must:
- remain off campus,
- notify his or her immediate supervisor,
- seek medical guidance from a health care provider or the Hamilton County Health Department, and
- submit the COVID-19 Notification Form and await instructions from University Health Officials regarding the next steps.
Employees who are directed to remain off campus while their personal health is being assessed or directed to self-quarantine or self-isolate will be expected to work remotely to the extent feasible. Employees who are unable to work remotely must utilize sick or annual leave balances, if applicable, to remain in a paid status. If sufficient leave balances do not exist, regular, benefits-eligible employees should record time as an Unpaid Absence (UA) on all applicable timesheets. Temporary or student employees unable to work remotely should not have compensable time recorded on timesheets for the applicable period. Additional questions regarding the record of quarantine/isolation on timesheets should be directed to UTCHumanResources@utc.edu.
Employees who fail to comply with directives from University Health officials regarding self-quarantine or self-isolation may be subject to disciplinary action.
PRECAUTIONS DURING PERSONAL TRAVEL
Employees and students should take precautions prior to traveling outside of the Chattanooga area based on recommendations from the CDC as well as local and state health departments. Travelers should look at the recommendations that are in place in each area they are traveling to or through in order to determine if a quarantine is recommended. If a quarantine is recommended based on travel plans, the employee or student should fill out a COVID-19 Notification Form no more than seven days before leaving the Chattanooga area. Decisions related to travel should be considered prior to leaving Chattanooga to determine what impact this would have on your return to campus. If you have questions related to upcoming personal travel, call University Health Services at 423-425-2266.
If you choose to travel to or through an area that requires that you quarantine before you return to campus, you will be required to use your personal annual or sick leave for the time you miss from work. If you do not have sufficient leave balances, you may be put on unpaid leave for the time you miss from work. Questions regarding the type of leave recorded during a required quarantine period following personal travel should be directed to the Office of Human Resources at 423-425-4221 or UTCHumanResources@utc.edu.
UNIVERSITY-RELATED BUSINESS TRAVEL
If business travel needs are deemed essential, then departments within the University may permit travel for individual employees or groups of employees and students subject to prior approval of the dean of the college within which the department resides (if an academic department in Academic Affairs) or the next level of administration of the other division within which the department resides (if a non-academic departments).
What You Need to Do:
- Utilize the COVID-19 Notification Form for reporting any illness, exposure concerns or international/cruise travel to University Health Officials.
- Consult your supervisor or department head to request approval of essential business travel.
Health and Safety Protocol Requirements
FACE MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING
At this time, students and employees will have full access to campus facilities, common areas and classroom spaces.
Masks are required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
Face masks must now be worn by everyone in all indoor public spaces. These protocols apply to all faculty, staff, students, vendors and campus visitors.
Masks are not required in these situations:
- When alone in private offices, residence hall apartments and rooms
- While engaging in fitness activities
- While actively eating and drinking
Ordering Face Masks:
Disposable face masks are available to order from Emergency Services. Call or email Faith Garner at 423-425-5741 or email@example.com.
To enable communication with people who may rely on lip reading, the University has a limited supply of face masks with a transparent window that can be requested by calling the Disability Resource Center at 423-425-4006 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Employees with disability-related concerns about wearing face masks should contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) to initiate a review for possible ADA accommodations HERE or at 423-425-4221.
All employees must wash their hands upon entering their work areas and prior to exiting at the end of their shifts/workdays.
Frequent, thorough hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the best ways of protecting yourself and others from germs and the spread of infectious disease.
Among the many ways you can spread, share or come in contact with disease-causing germs are:
- Touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Preparing or consuming food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touching unclean, contaminated surface or objects
- Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
Wash your hands often—before preparing food; before and after eating or drinking; after touching surfaces such as doorknobs or handrails; after contact with any surface or object that may not be clean; after restroom visits; after blowing your nose or coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer stations are available at numerous locations across campus.
DISINFECTANT AND CLEANING REQUIREMENTS
Custodial services will continue to clean restrooms and common areas, with enhanced attention given to high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails and so on. Facilities Planning and Management has bottles of disinfectant spray filled with the recommended disinfectant per CDC guidelines.
Ordering Disinfectant Spray for Office Spaces: Each unit head must determine the number of disinfectant spray bottles needed for each department under his or her purview and submit this information to the Facilities Planning and Management work request system via one of the following methods:
(1) Service desk (https://fpmis.utc.edu/) from the campus network
(2) If off-campus or without access to the campus network, email: email@example.com
(3) Call 423-425-2254. Facilities will arrange for delivery of supplies to departments.
When ordering resupply of disinfectant spray bottles, please maintain empty bottles for exchange with Facilities Planning and Management.
Hand Sanitizer Station/Soap Dispenser Resupply Service: If you see an empty sanitizer station or soap dispenser, call Facilities Planning and Management at 423-425-4521. Someone will be dispatched to refill the station as quickly as possible. This does not apply to individual containers on desks or personal workstations.
What You Need to Do:
- Adhere to all social distancing requirements and signage on campus.
- Practice proper hand hygiene protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Unit heads should establish a point of contact within their respective unit(s) for monitoring supply and resupply orders of disinfectant and cleaning supplies from Facilities Planning and Management.
Guidelines and standards for the establishment of telecommuting arrangements either requested by regular, temporary or student employees in an active pay status or when required by the University are available on the Human Resources website.