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UT to require masks in nearly all indoor spaces on campus through Sept. 7

As of Aug. 23, UT announced masks are now required in all indoor public spaces, except in private offices and residence hall rooms.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee in Knoxville is planning a full in-person return to campus this fall, and now we have a better idea of just what that new normal will look like.

The Office of the Provost posted guidance on its website this week outlining details.

All employees will be back at work on campus on June 1 and most classes are expected to be taught in person, though contact tracing will still be conducted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Teachers will be expected to make accommodations for students who need to miss class because of contact tracing or illness.

"It is important to the overall health of the campus community that students are able to stay home without penalty if they have symptoms of any illness," according to the provost.

While faculty won't be expected to live stream all classes, they are encouraged to record lectures so it will be available for students who miss class.

UT's Board of Trustees decided in April that COVID-19 vaccines would not be mandatory for the campus community, but it is strongly recommended.

"With vaccines now widely available, we have better tools to fight this pandemic than we did last year. I encourage you to get vaccinated if you haven’t already," Donde Plowman said in a statement on Aug. 23. "This is the best defense against contracting and spreading COVID-19, and especially against severe cases of the disease. It is also the best way to ensure that we can keep our campus thriving and bustling throughout the fall semester."

Vaccine appointments are available through the Student Health Center at the university's coronavirus website.

As of Aug. 23, UT announced masks are now required in all indoor public spaces, except in private offices and residence hall rooms and while individuals are actively eating, drinking, or engaging in fitness activities.

This new mask mandate will be in effect for the next two weeks, according to the university. System and campus leadership will re-evaluate the situation by Sept. 7.

UT said this is an expansion of the mask requirement previously announced on August 2, which covered all classrooms, laboratories and required indoor academic events.

International trips will once again be allowed, though there are some extra steps to take if traveling to a country that's listed by the State Department or the CDC with a risk level 3 or 4 because of the high risk of getting or transmitting COVID-19 variants.