COVID-19 Reporting and CARES Act Information

Return to Tech

Return to Tech: Campus Plan for Students

 Return to Tech Overview | Download PDF

Introduction

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.

Especially kind.

Table of Contents

» Golden Eagle Pledge
» Student Responsibility
» Academic Information
» Classroom Attendance
» Health Considerations

» Personal Responsibility for Symptoms, Positive Test & Exposure 
» Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing

» High-Risk Groups
» Flu Vaccinations
» Safety Practices
       › University Face Covering Protocol
       › Physical Distancing
       › Personal Safety Measures
       › Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

» Housing and Residential Life
» Volpe Library Access 
» Dining Services
» Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center 
» Athletics
» Student Life/Co-Curricular Activities

» Campus Events 
» Campus Visitors

» Travel
» Wellness
» General Resources 
» Technology Resources

» Questions


Golden Eagle Pledge

I pledge to do my part to keep our community in good health as I return to the City of Cookeville and to Tennessee Tech University’s campus.

I understand I have a role and responsibility to help my campus and my city fight COVID-19, and I pledge to be responsible for my own health. I understand I am accountable for staying informed about safety practices and guidelines.  

I commit to practicing patience and understanding with my fellow students, faculty members and university staff as we all navigate the changes on campus and in the classroom we will experience. I will strive to be kind.  

I will support my campus community and Cookeville by doing the following:

  • Conducting daily self-checks for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Isolating, notifying Tech Health Services and seeking health care if I have symptoms.
  • Wearing a mask when and where required by the university and local businesses. 
  • Following public health guidelines in place to help protect myself and others.
  • Protecting myself and others in high-traffic areas of campus or situations where physical distancing isn’t possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Keeping my hands clean and sanitized while on campus, around Cookeville and at home.
  • Practicing caution at off-campus locations and avoiding situations that pose a high-spread risks.
  • Modifying my actions and encouraging others to do the same as guidelines and recommendations adapt over time.

By taking the pledge to keep Tennessee Tech and the Cookeville community in good health, I accept responsibility for myself and my actions and will do my best to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Student Responsibility

This plan provides policies, protocol and guidelines for all Tech students. The goal is to promote healthy behaviors so that we can offer the fullest campus experience possible during the pandemic. These requirements and guidance promote the genuine community we have at Tech. Students who choose not to adopt these behaviors may unintentionally jeopardize the safety of others and put faculty, staff, friends and family at risk. Students who repeatedly disregard instructions may face disciplinary action.

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Academic Information

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.

 

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Classroom Attendance

Students will receive a syllabus for each class with specific information on the faculty member’s expectations for completing assignments and receiving course instruction if physical attendance is not possible. Students should communicate with faculty members to understand the nature of their specific courses and expectations. Faculty have agreed to modify attendance policies for the semester for the greatest benefit to students.

Students will be required to wear face coverings in all classrooms and labs. The full university face covering requirements can be found later in this plan.

Faculty will provide virtual office hours as an option for students.

Class times will remain the same. Department chairs and program directors will identify solutions on a case-by-case basis if the time to travel to and from classes becomes problematic.

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Health Considerations

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.

Daily Symptom Self-Check
Students must take personal responsibility in following the recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines. It is critical for students to understand and be aware of COVID-19 symptoms.

Students should take their own temperature before classes each day. 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?

If a student answers “Yes” to any of the above questions (and there is not a separate known cause, e.g., asthma, allergies, etc.), the student will need to self-isolate, not go to class, and call their health care provider and Tech Health Services at 931-372-3320 for further instructions.

If a student develops a fever or COVID-19 symptoms while on campus, they should go immediately to their campus residence or permanent residence to self-isolate and contact their health care provider and Tech Health Services for further instructions.

A symptomatic student seeking medical care should call in advance to schedule an appointment so that intake procedures are understood prior to arrival.

Students must direct all requests for excuses for class absences related to COVID-19, regardless of where the COVID-19 testing is performed, to Tech Health Services.

More detailed information about actions a student should take if they test positive or come into contact with someone who has tested positive is posted at www.tntech.edu/healthservices.

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Personal responsibility for Symptoms, Positive Test & Exposure

Students 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 a cumulative 15 minutes or longer in a 24-hour period, AND

• Being closer than 6 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 the evaluation of Health Services.

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Screening, Testing and 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.

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High-Risk Groups

According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have an increased risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  1. Older adults (aged 65 years and older);
  2. People with HIV;
  3. Asthma (moderate-to-severe);
  4. Chronic lung disease;
  5. Diabetes;
  6. Serious heart conditions;
  7. Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis;
  8. Severe obesity
  9. Being immunocompromised.

Students are asked to consider their friends, family, faculty and staff in these high risk groups when on campus. Consistent consideration, kindness and willingness to participate in safety practices will benefit them.

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Flu Vaccinations

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, students 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.

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Safety Practices

University Face Covering Protocol

All people on campus—including faculty, staff, students, vendors, contractors, suppliers and visitors—should wear face coverings (covering nose and mouth) 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 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. Maintain physical spacing as well where possible.

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.

Students may use their own face coverings. In addition, the university will provide two washable face masks to each student at the beginning of the fall semester. Distribution locations and times will be shared at a later time. Students are expected to wash their face coverings regularly.

Non-Compliance
If a student declines to wear a face covering as required, the student can be asked to leave the classroom and engage the class through online resources. If the situation occurs in a classroom or other academic setting, it is considered a classroom management issue, and a faculty member should remind the student of the requirement and give the student a chance to comply prior to asking them to leave. If a student repeatedly fails to wear a mask, it is appropriate to refer 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.

Accommodations
Individuals with disabilities seeking accommodations academic or otherwise related to COVID-19 or face coverings may contact the Accessible Education Center for further information. The AEC may be reached at 931-372-6119 or disability@tntech.edu.

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Physical Distancing

Students should maintain at least a distance of six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people at all times.

Students should refrain from entering others’ personal rooms, offices and cubicles, using electronic communication where possible.

Students should avoid handshakes and other physical contact.

Plexiglass barriers are being installed for student work/study stations in high density, public areas that involve regular face-to-face contact.

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 help facilitate physical distancing.

Physical spaces (e.g., classrooms, conference rooms, restrooms) are being analyzed to determine if any adjustments should be made to promote physical distancing while still complying with any applicable building code requirements.

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Personal Safety Measures

The first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands well and often. Students 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, students should use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Students are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitizer. Individual sanitizer containers will be given to each student 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. Personal water bottles should be labeled with the owner’s name and not shared.

Students should minimize or avoid sharing personal items and school supplies with others.

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

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Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

Deep cleaning has occurred in all academic buildings and residence halls 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.

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.

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Housing and Residential Life

The university has developed a housing and residential life plan in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, including adjustments to room options, quarantine accommodations and enhanced safety practices. In addition, please review the university’s responses to common housing-related questions in the Residential Life FAQs at https://www.tntech.edu/reslife/faq.php.

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Volpe Library Access

The Volpe Library will be open, with some adjustments to operations to ensure social distancing.

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Dining Services

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. (To expand the seating capacity in the Caf, Chartwells will use the Tech Pride Room to expand seating capacity, and the room will not be available for campus event use.) 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 https://www.dineoncampus.com/ttu/covid19-updates.

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Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center

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 https://www.tntech.edu/recreation.

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Athletics

It is anticipated that student-athletes will return to campus for voluntary workouts in late July. Information regarding intercollegiate athletics in 2020–2021 will be communicated at a later date.

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Student Life/Co-Curricular Activities

Information about extra-curricular and co-curricular activities will be communicated later in the summer.

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Campus Events

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. Any limit on the number of attendees at an event is based on the capacity of the individual space while maintaining physical distancing guidelines. 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.

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Campus Visitors

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.

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Travel

University-Sponsored/Funded Travel

International Travel
All university-sponsored/funded international travel, including Study Abroad, is suspended.

Domestic Travel

  • 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 are 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.

Personal Travel

Domestic
Consistent with CDC recommendations, students 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. Students 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 student 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.

International
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.

Cruises
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 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.

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Wellness

This pandemic can be stressful both personally and in the workplace. Students 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. In addition, students are encouraged to visit the webpages of the Counseling Center at www.tntech.edu/counsel for more information about resources available through the university.

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General Resources

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.

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Technology Resources

The Information Technology Services myTECH HelpDesk continues to be available by phone, email or remote assistance through the summer and fall. Students needing any technology assistance can contact the myTECH HelpDesk at 931-372-3975 or helpdesk@tntech.edu. ITS anticipates offering in-person assistance in the fall semester after spaces are reconfigured.

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Questions

If a student has questions or concerns regarding safety on campus in light of the pandemic or this plan, the student should contact the Dean of Students Office at www.tntech.edu/dos.

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