UT students living on campus could soon see COVID-19 restrictions loosen up

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)– During her weekly update, University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said students living on campus could soon see some COVID-19 restrictions lifted.

When students came back to campus after winter break, university leaders had tighter restrictions, due to “elevated case counts” at the time.

Those temporary restrictions included:

  • No visitation 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.

Students living on campus, including Greek housing, were also required to submit weekly saliva samples to test for COVID-19.

According to UT’s COVID-19 guidelines for the start of the spring semester, “participation in the community saliva testing and data on case counts will help determine when temporary restrictions can be lifted.”

On Friday, Plowman said that’s why changes to restrictions for on-campus housing are coming.

“Some residence halls and Greek housing will see temporary restrictions lifted thanks to their combined high participation and low positivity rates,” Plowman said.

A couple of freshman living on campus said the restriction that impacted them the most was no dorm room visitation.

“So right now, it’s just nobody’s allowed in your dorm but you,” freshman Ben Keziah said.

That’s one change they hope to see next week.

“I do have a lot of friends in this (same) hall, and it’s not like we’re throwing massive parties or anything. It’s just me and the two people who live in the room,” Elizabeth Nelms, another freshman said.

“I think lifting it a little bit, just for the student experience, is worth it, but I mean, you obviously don’t want to go too far either way. But, hopefully they can find that balance,” Keziah said.

Both said the other restrictions didn’t really affect them as much.

They’ve also been following them for so long, Nelms wasn’t even sure what had changed from the fall semester.

“I am not really sure like what exactly the restrictions from last semester are still in place, because it hasn’t been very clear,” Nelms said.

However, they both would like to see one requirement stay the same, or at least wouldn’t mind it continuing: weekly testing.

“I think that we should continue testing every week, cause I think that’s the best way to make sure of things. Cause I know last semester they stopped an outbreak,” Nelms said.

UT leaders said weekly testing will ‘definitely continue.’

In Plowman’s weekly update, she said the university will announce next week which restrictions will change.

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