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University of Tennessee students return for first day of new semester

Students were back in class Wednesday. Some went in-person, while others logged in from home for their lessons.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Students, faculty and staff returned to the University of Tennessee for the first day of the spring semester on Wednesday.

The campus has carried over many of the same COVID-19 safety guidelines from the last semester. Officials encouraged students to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to Knoxville and required students to prove they had a flu vaccination or an approved exemption before the semester began.

They also encouraged students to bring clothing and gear for a range of seasons, since they would likely be making fewer trips home during the semester, officials said.

Residence halls will have weekly community saliva tests during the semester and said residents who participate will be eligible for incentives. They also said that the semester would also begin with temporary restrictions in place: 

  • No visitation will be allowed in residence halls and sorority and fraternity houses
  • Campus dining will be carryout only
  • Access to recreation and common spaces will be limited
  • In-person events will be limited

The semester also started with a Big Orange Welcome event, with six weeks of events to welcome students back from winter break. They hosted a "New Vol Welcome" for incoming students and a "Winter Torch Night" where students had the chance to learn more about the Volunteer community.

A virtual event, "Let's Talk: Vol to Vol," is meant to bring first-year students together for an intergroup dialogue about how to promote respect and understand for diversity.

The Big Orange Welcome will end with Vol Success Week, Feb. 21 - 27, which will celebrate student success and academic achievement.

"Community involvement is still there, it may not be in-person but we're still together," said John Knight, a UT freshman. "Just to be able to walk around and see people on campus. It's great."