UT students react to updated COVID guidelines for fall semester

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The University of Tennessee is going back-to-masks in some places around campus to start the fall semester. This applies to all campuses in the UT system.

With the vaccine more widely available, students thought they would be entering this year with more normalcy. But, some parts of last year will be following them this fall.

“I was kind of surprised honestly,” said one student, Elizabeth.

“It is a little bit disappointing. I think we were all expecting something a little more different,” said UTK sophomore Grace Kaupas.

University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd made the announcement Monday. Some students say they won’t really notice the change

“Honestly I was not that mad about it because I guess with the new delta variant coming out and stuff, that’s probably the safest option for the students and for the city in general,” said UT Chattanooga Junior Dee Maxwell.

Others say another year of masks is worth it in exchange for other normalcies.

“I’m probably more relieved than anything just because I know when I first picked my classes at the beginning of the summer a lot of my classes were online and now I have every in-person class so I feel like it’s helpful because we can have in-person classes and not be stuck in our dorms and our rooms,” said UT Knoxville sophomore Anna Hawkins.

In the meantime, the university continues to encourage students to get the vaccine. Chancellor Donde Plowman said in a statement that the campus experience will remain the same.

“We plan a full campus experience, with classrooms and residential spaces at capacity. We do not plan to limit dining options or seating but will maintain the ability for students to take meals to go if they choose,” Plowman said.

UT Knoxville is not going to provide quarantine or isolation housing, meals or transportation. The school is telling students living on campus to have a plan if they need to isolate themselves. Community saliva testing will go away, but tests will be available for free to any student.

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