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Start-of-semester information for spring 2021

To-do items and reminders for the start of spring semester after winter break

Updated: January 11, 2021

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you’re returning to campus, consider scheduling a COVID-19 test and limit your contacts in the week before you return.
  • Complete a COVID-19 self-isolation form if you’re self-isolating before the semester starts.
  • Spring 2021 requirements include a flu vaccine.
  • Residential students are required to participate in saliva testing each week.
  • Campus and crisis resources remain available to help you stay physically and mentally well.
  • Because of elevated case counts, the semester will begin with temporary restrictions in place.

Before you know it, spring semester will be under way. Here are some things to know and do as the long winter break winds down.

Coming Back Healthy

If you’re returning to campus, making sure you’re in good health when you arrive helps keep everyone safe in the first weeks of the semester.

  • Consider scheduling a COVID-19 test a few days before you return. Check with your provider or local health department to learn the turnaround time for tests, and plan your test in time to make sure you have the results before you leave. If you’re in the Knoxville area, you can be tested at the Student Health Center with a turnaround time of one to two days. Call 865-974-5080.
  • As much as possible, arrange your social and family life to reduce your contacts in the week before your return.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or need to self-isolate before the spring semester because of a close contact or another reason, complete a COVID-19 self-isolation form. Reporting helps the university maintain accurate data, and you’ll receive information on making a delayed return to campus if needed.

Action Items

  • Provide proof of a flu vaccination or an approved exemption before the semester begins. Learn more about the requirement and the exemption process.
  • Make sure your current health insurance information is on file at the Student Health Center. If your insurance has changed, upload your current information before you return to campus.
  • If you’re coming in from out of town, plan to bring clothing and gear for the range of seasons, since you’ll likely be making fewer trips home during the semester.

Spring Campus COVID-19 Testing

The community saliva testing program launched in the fall proved valuable in reducing the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Because of that success, the program is expanding for spring:

  • Residence halls will have weekly community saliva tests. Residents will receive materials and information to provide a sample on their hall’s designated day every week. Those who participate regularly will be eligible for incentives, and participation will help determine when temporary restrictions such as visitation limits can be lifted.
  • Students living off campus—both undergraduate and graduate—will have access to community saliva testing as well, and participation is strongly encouraged for commuters.
  • Individual testing and patient care will continue to be provided at the Student Health Center’s COVID-19 clinics. In addition, EverlyWell home test kits will be available at the center for students who don’t have symptoms.

View the community saliva testing schedule on the events calendar.

Learn more about COVID-19 testing on campus.

Temporary Restrictions

Because of elevated case counts, the semester will begin with the following temporary restrictions in place.

  • No visitation will be 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.

Your participation in the community saliva testing and data on case counts will help determine when temporary restrictions can be lifted.

Keeping Up Your Physical and Mental Health

With the long break and the strain that comes with start of the semester, even in normal times, it’s important to keep up your physical and mental self-care. That means eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding substance misuse. It also means staying connected with friends and spending some time every day doing something fun or relaxing.

Student Resources

Lots of campus resources are available to help you manage the start of the semester and include online options for your convenience.

Crisis Resources

If you or someone you know is in crisis, these resources are free, confidential, and available 24/7:

Remember the Volunteer Commitment

At the start of fall semester we didn’t really know what to expect, but we knew the values of our community—set out in the Volunteer Commitment—would help us through. Thanks to your resilience, leadership, service, and positivity, we’ve made it through the most challenging year most of us have ever seen—and now, after some time to rest and recharge, we can stay strong and keep looking out for one another this spring.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.