The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga plans to resume classes on campus this fall, beginning on Aug. 17, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Like many colleges and universities across the country, UTC plans to end the fall semester before Thanksgiving to prevent students from making multiple trips home for the holidays and will offer a combination of in-person and online courses to students.
A task force designated by Chancellor Steve Angle has been considering multiple scenarios for reopening campus since April 30. University officials released a final report with recommendations from the task force for resuming face-to-face instruction and campus operations on Monday.
"Adjustments to the fall calendar and other comprehensive measures are being put in place to help protect the health and safety of our campus community as we resume face-to-face instruction," reads a statement by Angle.
"We will continue to adopt measures to protect the health and safety of the campus community that align with guidance from the CDC and the Tennessee and Hamilton County departments of health. ... If circumstances make it necessary to revisit our processes or approaches, we will do so, with the health and safety of our community being the top priority."
The report presents recommendations for three scenarios. The ideal scenario, according to officials, plans for a fully reopened and operational campus, but the second and third scenarios provide options in the event COVID-19 cases or an outbreak is reported on campus.
UTC's campus has been closed since March, along with other schools across Tennessee. In early May, UT System President Randy Boyd pledged that campuses across the system were planning to reopen for the fall semester.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Hamilton County, though, and some worry that proper precautions for mitigating the spread of the virus are not in place.
According to the task force's report, "a comprehensive strategy to provide testing within one working day for all students, faculty, and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 is in place on all campuses."
The university will then rely on the local health department to lead the contact tracing process, but if the departments request assistance from UTC, a UTC contact tracing manager will coordinate the tracing activities, according to the report.
Like many universities throughout the country, UTC will offer at least three types of classes in the fall — including some taught face to face in classrooms, where students will be expected to follow social distancing guidance, some online courses and courses that are a combination of both, according to a news release.
Additional health and safety measures that will be in place include requiring the wearing of face masks by faculty, staff, students and visitors; practicing social distancing in all settings, such as classrooms, work spaces, common areas, dining spaces and campus housing; personal health monitoring and multiple course delivery methods.
The academic calendar and details on the spring 2021 semester will be finalized in the next several weeks, according to a news release, but some dates have already been released.
Fall classes will start on Aug. 17 and end before Thanksgiving. Final exams will be conducted online from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8. Classes will meet on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and students will not have a fall break this semester.
Housing move-in dates for fall semester will be announced soon and will include social distancing and modifications to student housing spaces, according to university officials.
For more information or to read the full fall 2020 task force report, visit: www.utc.edu/Fall-2020-Task-Force-Committee-Final-Report.