Return to Tech
Return to Tech: Campus Plan for Employees
Tennessee Tech is committed to the safety and wellbeing of its students, faculty, staff and campus visitors while continuing to provide a quality education and to put students first in all we do. To minimize risk to individuals and the public, Tennessee Tech will comply with local, state and federal regulations and guidance from public health authorities. These measures may change, sometimes on short notice, as conditions change on and off our campus. The pandemic is a fluid, dynamic situation that requires the university to regularly review and appropriately update protocol and guidance as we receive revised information. The guidance will help us create a productive working environment as intended if employees and students continue to be bold, fearless, confident and kind.
Table of Contents
» Workplace Expectations
» Building Access
» Employee Health Screening Process
» Personal Responsibility for Symptoms, Positive Test & Exposure
» High-Risk Groups
» Reporting COVID-19 cases
» Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing
» Flu Vaccinations
» Safety Practices
› University Face Covering Protocol
› Physical Distancing
› Personal Safety Measures
› Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
» Types of Academic Course Instruction
» Volpe Library Access
» Dining Services
» Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center
» Campus Visitors
» Campus Events
» COVID-19 related purchases
» General Resources
All employees are expected to follow policies, protocol and guidelines provided in this plan. Employees who fail to follow the plan could jeopardize the safety of others and may be subject to disciplinary action.
As of July 6, 2020, all non-faculty employees were expected to return to work on campus unless granted a telecommuting exception for a medical reason by Human Resources.
Many faculty returned to campus for second summer term in July and will return for the fall semester in August as appropriate with their teaching, research and service schedules. Deans and department chairs oversee the return of faculty.
All campus buildings reopened by July 6. In an effort to keep students and parents safe, Residential Life expanded the dates for Great Move-In Week to Aug. 16-20.
Tennessee Tech is committed to providing faculty, staff, students, and visitors a safe environment where scholarship, research and academic achievement can thrive despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, Tennessee Tech will monitor to the extent possible on-campus activities to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals as Tennessee Tech resumes campus classes and activities responsibly.
Employees must take personal responsibility in following the recommended Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines. It is critical for employees to understand and be aware of COVID-19 symptoms.
Prior to arriving on campus each day, an employee must take his/her temperature to ensure it is below 100.4 degrees. If an employee’s temperature is higher than the minimum allowed by the CDC, they should stay home.
Also, they should answer the following screening questions each day:
- Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
- Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or a sore throat?
- Have you had a fever of greater than 100.4 F in the past 48 hours?
- Have you had a new loss of taste or smell?
- Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the past 24 hours?
The Tech Express portal (express.tntech.edu) offers a quick questionnaire to help employees remember the daily protocol. If an employee answers “Yes” to any question on the form, Human Resources will directly contact and talk with an employee if needed based on the answers provided. The employee will be instructed whether to come to (or stay on) campus, or to stay (or return) home.
Employees in high exposure areas may be required to have their temperatures taken on campus at the beginning of each day or shift.
In addition, if an employee develops any COVID-19 symptoms while on campus, the employee should separate from others and leave campus in a manner that reduces any contact with others. It is imperative for employees to communicate with their supervisors in situations like these.
An employee displaying any COVID-19 symptoms should seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing as soon as reasonably possible. Failure to seek medical care or COVID-19 testing may impact an employee’s ability to receive leave under TTU Policy 616 (Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Depending on the employee’s specific circumstances, the employee may utilize leave as established under TTU Policy 616, annual or sick leave, or unpaid leave.
Employees are responsible for following instructions given by the CDC if they find themselves in one of the following situations related to symptoms, a positive test and exposure.
How do I know if I have had close contact exposure to COVID-19?
The determining factor is if the exposure was through close contact, as defined as
- Having contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer, AND
- Being closer than six feet from that person.
Close contact exposure guidelines are relevant regardless of the use of facial covering.
Close contact exposure guidelines are to be followed even when the person tested has no symptoms of COVID-19.
Each case is treated on a case-by-case basis, as individual details must be collected and evaluated, but here are three of the most common scenarios you may find yourself in and the actions you must take:
With all cases, household contacts may be quarantined for longer than 14 days, dependent on your situation.
According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have an increased risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:
- Older adults (aged 65 years and older);
- People with HIV;
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe);
- Chronic lung disease;
- Serious heart conditions;
- Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis;
- Severe obesity;
- Being immunocompromised.
Employees who are expected to return to campus and have concerns about doing so due to a condition that places them in a higher-risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek disability accommodations related to returning to on-site work should contact Human Resources.
If a faculty or staff member is made aware by a student or fellow employee that they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the faculty/staff member should notify Tech's Health Services if it is a student or Human Resources if it is a fellow employee. Instruct the student to leave class/lab, self-isolate and contact their healthcare provider and Tech Health Services by phone for further instructions. Health Services will follow-up with appropriate testing and/or contact tracing. It is not the faculty/staff member’s responsibility to conduct contact tracing.
Tech’s Health Services has worked with the state to be able to provide COVID-19 testing this fall to those on campus who develop symptoms. Individuals who are symptomatic or have been exposed to a person who has tested positive will need to be tested immediately.
Tech Health Services will also be able to provide surveillance testing to targeted populations across campus this fall. This testing will provide testing for individuals who are NOT symptomatic or have NOT been exposed to COVID-19. For example, Health Services may announce that they will be testing anyone from the residence halls who wishes to be tested on a certain day.
As part of this plan, it is expected that the university will require anyone who tests positive to self-isolate for an appropriate period of time, and contact tracing will be conducted consistent with the procedures established by the Tennessee Department of Health.
The seasonal flu is expected to return later this year, putting more demands on healthcare facilities and providers trying to treat both COVID-19 and flu patients. To help reduce this risk, employees are strongly encouraged to get a flu vaccination this fall. Later this year, the university will share information about the availability and access to the flu vaccine for students and employees.
All people on campus—including faculty, staff, students, vendors, contractors, suppliers and visitors—should wear face coverings (covering nose and mouth) while inside campus buildings.
Face coverings are required in all classrooms, labs, indoor public spaces, public restrooms, shared office space, elevators, stairwells, on-campus events and gatherings (even outdoor gatherings) where distancing is difficult and all places and times where physical distancing is not possible.
Face coverings are encouraged, but not required, in residence hall rooms, enclosed single-person offices, enclosed single-person study spaces and outdoor settings where distancing can be managed.
Face coverings are required when using campus transportation (such as a shuttle bus) and when multiple individuals are in a university vehicle.
Wearing a face covering is not required when alone in a private office or work space, nor is it required when working behind a plexiglass barrier if there is also a six-foot distance from other people. This would include, for example, a faculty member teaching behind a plexiglass barrier in a classroom or laboratory setting that has sufficient distancing.
Tech will supply reusable masks to all employees and students, though use of personally owned masks is welcome. Reusable masks should be washed regularly.
If an employee declines to wear a face covering as required, the supervisor is responsible for addressing it with the employee. Employees should refrain from addressing non-compliance or perceived non-compliance directly with other employees and should instead report issues to their supervisors.
If a student declines to wear a face covering as required, the student should be referred to the Dean of Students. If the situation occurs in a classroom or other academic setting, it is considered a classroom management issue, and the faculty member should remind the student of the requirement and give the student a chance to comply prior to referring the matter to the Dean of Students.
Repeated failure to comply may result in disciplinary actions.
Members of the public who are not abiding by face covering requirements should first be offered a disposable face mask, if possible. If they refuse to comply with face covering requirements, they will be asked to leave and given options of how they can be served either virtually or in an isolated manner.
University Police are not responsible for enforcing face covering requirements and should not be contacted regarding such issues. If, however, any person threatens the safety of others or inhibits the normal operation of a class or office, contact University Police.
Faculty and staff requesting accommodations should contact Human Resources at 931-372-3034. An individual who has a health condition that prevents them from being able to wear a face covering should contact Human Resources. Students requesting accommodations should contact the Accessible Education Center at 931-372-6119.
Employees should maintain at least a distance of six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people at all times. Employees should refrain from entering other employees’ offices and cubicles, instead using electronic communication where possible.
Employees should avoid handshakes and other physical contact.
Plexiglass barriers are being installed for employee work stations in high density, public areas that involve regular face-to-face contact with others.
Signs encouraging physical distancing will be posted in all public places on campus, both interior and some exterior. This includes elevators, restrooms, conference rooms, lounges and other places that individuals can congregate.
Floor markings will be placed at locations where lines or groups potentially can form or need to form in order to facilitate physical distancing.
Physical spaces (e.g., classrooms, conference rooms, restrooms) are being analyzed and furniture rearranged to promote physical distancing while still complying with any applicable building code requirements.
Additional measures may be implemented by the supervisor of an assigned work area.
The first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands well and often.
Employees should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after coughing, sneezing, blowing their nose or touching their face.
If soap and water are not readily available, employees should use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Employees are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitizer and keep some at their work stations. Individual sanitizer containers will be given to each employee before the fall semester begins. Touch free stations in each building can be used to refill the individual containers.
Hands-free water bottle filling stations are operable, but all drinking fountains on them have been disabled.
Employees should minimize or avoid sharing personal items and work supplies with others. When sharing is necessary, items may be sanitized by using a commercial ethanol-based solution (70% or more ethanol) between uses.
In addition, the university has implemented the following measures in order to support everyone’s practice of good sanitation/hygiene.
- Hand washing and hygiene posters have been displayed in various locations around campus, including academic buildings, administrative buildings and residence halls.
- Hand sanitizer stations are available at the entrances of each building and in various locations around campus.
Deep cleaning has occurred in all academic buildings as well as other facilities around campus. It will also occur at regular intervals once areas open based on occupancy and use.
Open buildings are cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis at regular intervals and as necessary based on occupancy and use.
Cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surface areas (such as controls, door handles, elevator panels, railings, copy machines, etc.) occurs on a regular basis.
Individual offices are/will be sanitized prior to an employee reoccupying the space, with a sign noting that this has occurred. After returning to campus, assistance with cleaning of personal workspaces then becomes the responsibility of the occupants, though routine cleaning by the university will occur as before.
A disinfecting sprayer is utilized where appropriate.
Additional cleaning measures will be taken if the university is notified that an individual is/was on campus with a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.
Additional measures may be implemented by the supervisor of an assigned work area.
Fall semester will remain on the regular schedule. All classes will begin on Aug. 24, with on-campus instruction being offered that is consistent with federal, state and local guidance. Labor Day is Sept. 7. Fall break will be Oct. 12 and 13. Thanksgiving break will be Nov. 25-27. The semester ends Dec. 11.
All classes are being taught with the aim of following CDC recommended social distancing guidelines. In many cases, courses are being moved to larger classrooms, so students are appropriately spread out and physically distanced in the room. If that is not possible, courses are taught in a hybrid/high-flex manner, where the students are partitioned into groups that will meet in-person on a rotating basis. For example, students in a course might be divided into two groups, where one group meets in person on Tuesdays and the other group meets in person on Thursdays, and all lectures will be available online. When that is not possible, the courses might be taught predominantly online and have in-person activities in even smaller groups. Each course has been assessed, and the faculty instructor, department chair, and dean have determined the best approach for that specific course. Please note the following key components of the plan:
- To meet the academic needs of all students, more hybrid and online options have been
added to the schedule. Classes will be offered as one of five types (below). The online
course fee will only be assessed for courses that were originally listed in the course
catalog as “online” last spring during registration. Any courses that have been changed
to online by the university after fall registration started last April will not have
the online fee assessed.
- Traditional classroom — On-campus instruction for all course content.
- Predominantly on-campus — Referred to as “Tech-Enhanced” where the course content is primarily delivered on-campus but can include up to 20% of online delivery.
- Highly flexible — Referred to as “Tech-Flex” where the course content is delivered through both on-campus and online approaches. The online components average 40-60%, but no more than 80% of course content is delivered online.
- Predominantly online — Referred to as “Tech-Direct” where 80% or more course content is delivered through online approaches, but the course also includes a small amount of on-campus activities, such as testing, labs, etc. All such activities are scheduled prior to the beginning of the semester so students can plan to be on campus during designated times.
- Online — Online instruction for all course content. Students will not be required to participate in any on-campus activities.
- Faculty will prepare all courses with sufficient flexibility and adaptability to enable them to transition effectively during the semester to online instruction and back to on-campus instruction based on conditions on our campus and in our community.
The Volpe Library will be open, with some adjustments to operations to ensure social distancing.
There will be spaced seating, crowd control stanchions, one-way flow for walking and increased to-go options, as well as increased sanitation procedures.
In-person dining areas will be adjusted in order to promote physical distancing and abide by state and local capacity guidelines. In addition, all meals will be available as to-go options in take-out containers along with individually wrapped utensils. More information is available on the Dining Services webpage at www.dineoncampus.com/ttu/covid19-updates. Note: The Tech Pride Room will be used by Chartwells to expand seating capacity and will be offline for campus event use.
Beginning July 6, 2020, the Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center resumed operations with adjustments to hours, programming and protocol. Masks are required. More information is at the center’s website at www.tntech.edu/recreation/.
Visitors on campus—including vendors, contractors, suppliers, guests and members of the general public— are expected to abide by face covering requirements, physical distancing guidelines and personal sanitation/hygiene measures, as described in this plan.
Event organizers should first consider if the event can be accomplished in a virtual format without compromising the objectives of the event. If a virtual format is not suitable for the nature of the event, event organizers should offer virtual inclusion or alternative programming to the greatest extent possible.
Tennessee Tech will allow in-person, on-campus events provided the event organizers utilize appropriate measures to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. These guidelines apply to events organized by academic areas, including Center Stage and speakers. Event organizers are responsible for adherence to all guidelines. These guidelines will be amended as CDC and state public health guidance evolves.
The request process is at www.tntech.edu/studentactivities.
All university-sponsored/funded international travel, including Study Abroad, is suspended.
- All university-sponsored/funded domestic travel outside Tennessee for faculty and staff is suspended.
- University-sponsored/funded travel within the State of Tennessee is allowable in a manner consistent with standard university and departmental policies and practices. However, alternatives to physical travel is encouraged where practicable (e.g., having a phone/video conference instead of traveling off campus for a face-to-face meeting). In addition, based on future governmental directives and guidance, the University may further restrict university-sponsored/funded travel to higher-risk areas within Tennessee if the pandemic progresses.
Consistent with CDC recommendations, employees are not required to self-isolate after personal domestic travel. The CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, cases of COVID-19 have been reported in all states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports and airplanes, may increase chances of getting COVID-19. Employees are strongly encouraged to review the factors identified by the CDC when considering whether it is safe to travel domestically. Information about the CDC’s recommendations for domestic travel can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html. Finally, consistent with the self-certification process, every employee must monitor for symptoms related to COVID-19 before coming to work, and this must be done on a daily basis. This is particularly important after traveling.
The CDC no longer recommends 14 day quarantine for individuals returning from international travel. Those returning from travel should be aware that they may be contagious and should be sure to maintain social distancing, wear a cloth face covering, wash their hands, and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html
The CDC recommends that all people defer travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. That’s because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. Passengers who return from a cruise ship or river cruise voyage are advised to stay home for 14 days, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/returning-cruise-voyages.html
Information about the CDC’s recommendations for domestic and international travel
can be found at
All purchases for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and social distancing should be in consultation with Facilities. Employees should not procure bulk amounts of masks, sanitizer, gloves and related items, and departmental funds should not be used. COVID-19 social distancing items like stanchions, shields and signage should also be directed to Facilities. If you have specific needs for your department for social distancing and Facilities would prefer you to order the items yourself then reallocate the expense to them, they will instruct you to do so, but you must communicate your requests with them first.
This pandemic can be stressful both personally and in the workplace. Employees should
be mindful of their well- being and take steps to cope with this situation in a positive
way (e.g., eat healthy, exercise, get sleep, talk with
a trusted acquaintance, take breaks from the news and social media, etc.). The CDC has published information about coping with stress during this time at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/stress-coping. Employees are encouraged to visit www.tn.gov/partnersforhealth/other-benefits/eap for more information about resources available to university employees.
Please consult the university’s Return to Tech website at www.tntech.edu/return for more information on the university’s response to this pandemic.
If an employee has questions or concerns regarding safety on campus in light of the pandemic or this plan, those issues should be discussed with their supervisor and, if not resolved, Human Resources should be contacted.