From the Senior Vice President
and Senior Vice Chancellor
July 30, 2020
For the past several weeks, preparations have been underway to reopen physical offices throughout the UT Institute of Agriculture. Beginning next week, August 3-7, all on-campus and statewide UTIA offices are expected to maintain an employee presence during all normal operating hours, and buildings should be unlocked and accessible beginning no later than August 10. We continue to monitor the statewide status of COVID-19 and believe that we can safely return employees to the workspace, but doing so will require that we all do our part by strictly following established safety protocols.
Office preparations may vary slightly based on the unique needs of the location but broad efforts have been focused on establishing visible boundaries to promote social distancing, signage focused on hygiene practices and mask requirements, and installation of physical barriers. Individual employees are encouraged to keep these key points in mind:
- Be sure to understand and abide by current health related guidance. Best practices are adjusted on occasion as more is learned about the disease and how it spreads.
- Wear a mask in common areas and when social distancing cannot be maintained. The mask expectation also applies to all UTIA employees when performing their duties off-campus or off-site. If the location UTIA employees are visiting has specific protocols for safety practices, UTIA employees are expected to abide by the more stringent set of safety protocols.
- Be sure to complete the daily health screening at selfscreen.utk.edu before reporting to the workplace.
- The required Return to Work training remains available in K@TE and may be revisited multiple times for anyone who wishes to do so.
- If you are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms or have tested positive, please do not report to the workplace and contact your supervisor immediately.
While offices are expected to be open, all employees do not need to be present for the full duration of operating hours. Supervisors have been asked to consider the unique needs of their location and their staff in developing the best solution to ensure full coverage.
We all recognize that these are uncertain times and that feelings regarding the return to the physical workspace differ. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines in all offices to promote the safety and health of the workplace and we trust that you will do your part as well. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your supervisor, a member of the Human Resources team, or a member of the UTIA COVID-19 Task Force. Remember that questions and success stories may be submitted online at the UTIA coronavirus webpage (utia.tennessee.edu/coronavirus).
Thank you for all you do and for partnering with us as we return to the workplace. We'll all continue to work through this together.