Staff Report NEWS

The University of Tennessee announced Monday afternoon that all in-person classes will be moved and remain online for the remainder of the spring semester.

A news release sent to the UT community also indicated that alternative commencement ceremonies will be planned for all UT campuses in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In an effort to avoid further disruption for our students, faculty and staff, we will move instruction entirely online for the remainder of the spring semester,” Interim President Randy Boyd said in the email. “In addition, commencement ceremonies will not be held in May. Each campus is looking at alternative commencement options at this time.”

The email said that each campus will be sending out communications to staff, faculty and students regarding the impact to the respective campuses.

Chancellor Donde Plowman also addressed the UT community through email shortly after to let students know.

"I know this is particularly disappointing for our graduates who worked for their special day. We will find ways to celebrate your accomplishments," Plowman wrote.

"But we must finish the semester strong. We are committed to your success — making sure you graduate on time and receive credit for your courses."
For students who live on-campus, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas will be reaching out directly about plans to move out of residence halls.
There are currently no reported cases of coronavirus on UT's campus. The symptoms for most students will resemble that of the flu or a cold. However, the precautions of moving classes online are to help protect others who are more susceptible to the virus.
"But the precautions we are taking are not for the healthiest among us," Plowman said in the email. "They are about protecting the most vulnerable among us — our parents and grandparents, our friends and colleagues with underlying health concerns, small children who may not have a robust immune system." 
Plowman urged the UT community to continue social distancing off campus by refraining from gathering in large groups, avoiding public spaces as much as possible and continuing healthy habits. 
Plowman indicated that the next few weeks and months will be challenging, but also a defining moment for the Volunteer community to show what it means to be a Volunteer. 
"We’ll remember this moment for the rest of our lives. We’ll tell future generations about how our campus community responded, and in those moments we’ll recount how this was Rocky Top’s finest hour," Plowman said.
"Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other."
This staff report has been updated to include the content from Chancellor Donde Plowman's email. 

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