KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — University of Tennessee system leaders announced Wednesday that all in-person classes will be temporarily suspended beginning March 23 as a preventative measure amid the growing concern for the COVID-19 crisis across the country.

This comes as some university students prepare for spring break.

UT Interim President Randy Boyd and chancellors at UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin and the UT Health Science Center — announced that all in-person classes beginning March 23 will be temporarily suspended until further notice as a proactive measure in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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As of Wednesday, there are no coronavirus cases on any UT campuses.

Officials saying that UT Chattanooga will suspend in-person classes until March 30. UTC students were scheduled to return from their spring break March 16.

UT Knoxville and UT Martin will suspend in-person classes from March 23 until April 3. UT Health Science Center will assess its online options within the next 10 days and communicate directly with its campus community. Clinical rotations in hospitals will continue as usual.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our students,” Boyd said. “We are taking this preventative measure with all of our campuses that provide face-to-face instruction out of an abundance of caution.”

Each campus will be sending out specific communications to their faculty, students and staff regarding the details of the suspension and any online accommodations that will be made.

Students were asked by the university not to return to campus after Spring Break.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville also communicated its decision with its students in an email:

“Accordingly, we have made the following decisions:

  • Online classes—All classes will be moved online following spring break, effective March 23 until at least April 3. We will continue to communicate throughout this period so students, faculty, and staff know what to expect going forward. Faculty should be prepared to continue online coursework beyond April 3 should the need arise.
  • Residence hall and sorority and fraternity housing—Students are expected to stay home after spring break and participate in online classes from their primary residence. We understand that this is not possible for every student. If you live in a residence hall or fraternity or sorority house and you are not able to stay at home after spring break, you can register for an exemption to continue to live on campus. University Housing will provide additional information to campus residents by email this evening.
  • University events—Beginning March 16 and running through April 5, we are canceling all non-athletic university events, including those hosted by registered student organizations, which involve anticipated gatherings of 50 or more people. Event organizers may explore ways of conducting the event through livestreaming or other technologies. Requests for exemptions can be submitted to Decisions concerning events organized by the athletics department will be evaluated by the director of athletics in coordination with the chancellor, the SEC, and the NCAA.
  • Study abroad—All UT Knoxville–sponsored study abroad programs with departure dates prior to May 20 will be suspended. We will reach out directly to students who may be impacted to determine next steps.
  • Research facilities—While we have moved classes online, campus will remain open. That includes research facilities and labs.
  • Cruise ship travel—Any student, faculty, or staff who goes on any cruise—no matter the location or itinerary—or travels to an area listed as Level 2 or 3 on the CDC’s COVID-19 travel advisories page must self-isolate for two weeks upon their return home. Do not go to work, classes, athletic events, or other social gatherings until 14 days after the date of your departure from the affected area.”

For the students who live on campus — in a residence hall or sorority or fraternity house — they’ve been asked to take what they will need for the next three weeks, “especially your course materials” as classes will be moved to an online format.

“If you are an international student, do not have internet access for online classes, or must return to campus following spring break for any other reason, please register through the University Housing portal,” the university said.

Faculty and staff were also instructed to immediately move all coursework online; with faculty to be prepared to continue with online instruction beyond April 3, “in the event that becomes necessary.”

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