From the Senior Vice President
and Senior Vice Chancellor
March 13, 2020 Update
First, and foremost, UTIA's goal is to manage the exposure of our faculty and staff to COVID-19. The circumstances we are facing today are unlike anything we've experienced before and require teamwork, creativity, and understanding. We are directing our supervisors to be flexible and supportive to protect health as we continue to carry out our mission. The University of Tennessee (UT) is monitoring the national response to COVID-19 and keeping abreast of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations as they evolve. This message is intended to provide an update and make you aware of changes to our guidelines.
At present, UT is requiring employees to self-isolate for fourteen days if they are returning to the United States from another country, a cruise, or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Employees who live with, or have been in close contact with, anyone who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus are encouraged to voluntarily self-isolate. Recommendations regarding effective self-isolation practices can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.
After consulting with their supervisor, employees who self-isolate will be expected to telecommute to the extent possible. Employees who cannot perform work via telecommuting will receive paid administrative leave for two weeks. No employee will receive more than his or her regular salary or wages. Paid administrative leave should not result in overtime compensation. Temporary and student employees are not eligible for paid administrative leave. UT will revisit these practices and announce further decisions within the next two weeks.
Information from the CDC regarding "People at Higher Risk and Special Populations" can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups. The University may require a physician's statement of illness before approving paid administrative leave; however, our expectation is that our employees will do their part by acting honestly and ethically and only requesting leave when appropriate.
Employees who do not meet any of the above criteria may be eligible for two weeks of paid administrative leave if other circumstances necessitate them to remain away from work. This includes child and elder care issues or employees who have serious chronic medical conditions that place them at higher risk. These employees should contact their supervisor, who may seek advice from the Office of Human Resources, and their eligibility for paid administrative leave will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Any student or employee who tests positive for COVID19 must contact the university immediately. If an employee is unsure of their situation or has symptoms that may necessitate self-isolation, they are encouraged to phone the COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-857-2945 or their health care provider to seek guidance.
Please continue to visit our website for UTIA-specific information and resources, as well as UT Knoxville's coronavirus website. I appreciate your support and commitment during these uncertain times. With your help we will continue to serve students and stakeholders while doing our part to respond to this global crisis.