UTIA

From the Senior Vice President
and Senior Vice Chancellor

October 30, 2020

During today's Fireside Chat, I shared our plans for scaling up our office presence throughout the Institute. Over the past eight months, we have demonstrated that we can avoid workplace transmission by closely adhering to CDC guidelines of wearing masks, washing hands, staying home when sick, and maintaining social distance. In fact, our confirmed COVID-19 cases have never risen above six active at any point in time, including within the College of Veterinary Medicine, which has operated on-site at full capacity throughout the pandemic. We also have no documented cases of transmission in our classrooms, offices, or labs within the Institute, or in any offices or research centers across the state. These factors have demonstrated our ability to manage and mitigate viral transmission effectively using safety precautions. Taking this information into account, I believe it is now time that we begin planning to scale up our presence in our offices, classrooms, and laboratories on campus and across the state.

With students leaving UT campuses in late November and not returning until January 20, we can use December and January to scale up our presence to at least 50 percent in our offices. This transition does not mean that everyone must immediately report back to the workplace. Instead, it means we will support a measured approach that includes using staggered schedules and rotations that are created through discussion with your immediate supervisor. We will carefully monitor the data and immediately scale back down if we see any sustained spikes in COVID-19 cases. If there is any hint that cases are rising due to our increased presence, we will adjust appropriately.

It is also important to note that those who are in a high risk category may continue to work remotely. Also, employees who have successfully demonstrated that that they can fulfill all job responsibilities just as effectively in a remote environment should discuss indefinite telecommuting with their supervisor.

COVID-19 is not disappearing anytime soon and we must begin the process of learning to live within this "new normal." We've done a great job in being creative and addressing the needs of our stakeholders through virtual contacts. Now it's time to find ways to engage those we serve through more face-to-face experiences, using all safety protocols in the process. We change lives, and people depend on us. Together, we will find the most efficient way to ramp up classroom teaching, enhance our youth development activities, perform our critical research, and provide services to those who need them most, bringing together the best of our new and traditional practices.

I appreciate all that you have done, and will do, to continue providing real life solutions to those we serve.

Tim

Contact Us

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture
2621 Morgan Circle Drive  ·  101 Morgan Hall  ·  Knoxville, TN 37996
865-974-7342
utia.tennessee.edu