UTIA Family, please refer to utk.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates and student information. For UTIA-specific resources, including event information and county office status, please visit utia.tennessee.edu/coronavirus .

Q and A

Please check the UT Knoxville site for student information.

International and domestic travel is discussed on the UT Knoxville website. Go to the FAQs and scroll through the responses. Both international and domestic travel issues are addressed.

This situation is constantly evolving, but as of now, student workers who are asymptomatic may continue to work on campus. However, social distancing should be practiced and if the student’s work can be completed remotely, enabling this option is encouraged. Additional information will be shared as guidance is updated.

Please see the resources we have provided on the website under “Graphics for office and site use.” The graphic “Common Sense Steps for Preventing Disease” addresses this question. You may also visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov for additional resources.

Thank you for your question, but we cannot assess your risk. Please review the guidelines on set forth by the CDC, and if you are still concerned, consult your physician or your county health department.

There’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread via fruits and vegetables, and washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not recommended for consumers at home. Here is the current advice for washing fruits and vegetables in general:
• Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel. Germs on the peeling or skin can get inside fruits and vegetables when you cut them.
• Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating.
• Dry fruit or vegetables with a clean paper towel.
Also, at this point, there is no reason to believe that COVID-19 can withstand cooking temperatures. So, cooking some vegetables and fruit is an option.
Here is a link to a UT Extension fact sheet that may be helpful.

Answers supplied by Janie Burney, UT Family and Consumer Sciences, Annette Wszelaki, UT Plant Sciences

UT Knoxville Parking and Transit Services has a webpage that addresses staff parking refunds.

The introduction on the site reads “Faculty/staff permits differ from student permits in that they are charged month-to-month for a 12-month period through payroll deduction rather than being valid all academic year like the student permits (Aug-May). As such, this is the basis for there being no blanket refund for faculty/staff permit like being considered for student permits.”

Note that any Faculty/Staff who turn-in their permits into Parking and Transit Services won’t be charged for the days following turning in their permits. However, upon returning to work on campus they will need to reapply for another parking permit and any Special Permits they may presently have. Retention of current parking lot assignment is not guaranteed. Contact Joe Cagle, assistant director of General Services, jcagle@utk.edu, with further questions.

The status of the Jr. High Camps is yet to be determined. Administrators expect to announce an update no later than May 1, and we will post that announcement to our calendar. Thank you for your question.

UPDATED MAY 1, 2020:
The 4-H camping season for 2020 has been canceled. Also canceled are the State 4-H Horse Show and the Southern Regional Horse. View the Tennessee 4-H Ideas Newsletter for additional information about other activities.

The date that UTIA staff and faculty will return to their offices is expected to vary from county to county and facility to facility across the state. Re-opening plans will be data driven and formed with guidance from federal, state and local government and health officials. Guidelines will be available soon, and employee supervisors will have the most accurate information for your particular situation.

We’re sorry for the delay in answering this question. At this time our recommendation is to use one of the many options available in your personal web browser. Examples of these options are native translation functionality or plugins/add-ons such as Google Translate or Bing Translator. The user of these options must understand that no translator is perfect and that there can and will be errors in translation that may alter the meaning of website or document content. If you would like to request the translation of a specific Extension publication or resource, please contact our Marketing and Communications team at utiamarketing@tennessee.edu.

Rutherford County Farmers Market has requested vendors and customers wear masks and gloves at all times. A limited number of customers will be allowed in the market at a time and we are limiting the number of vendors that will be selling at the market. Customers will not be allowed to touch produce. Vendors will be accepting cashless payment such as Venmo, Cashapp and etc. to limit the exchange of cash. Vendors will be spaced at least six feet apart and will be required to have at least two people working each booth and to clean between each customer. Automatic hand sanitation stations will be setup throughout the market.

The 4-H camping season for 2020 has been canceled. Also canceled are the State 4-H Horse Show and the Southern Regional Horse. View the Tennessee 4-H Ideas Newsletter for additional information about other activities.

In short, yes. According to the UTIA COVID-19 Guidelines, “All UTIA employees should self-quarantine if they return from out-of-state travel, either university-related or personal. Details must be worked out with direct supervisors who will
consider working remotely and/or leave in response to employees returning from travel, or
other approaches to cover the absence from the office.”

All the UTIA COVID-19 Guidelines are subject to change. Please consult the website for the latest information.

As part of the university’s response to COVID-19, class will be in session on Labor Day (Monday, September 7, 2020). The details of this change are still being finalized and more information will be provided soon. While we expect that most institute employees will be able to take Labor Day off as scheduled, for those employees who must be present to support classroom teaching efforts the floating holiday may be used for an alternative day off between the dates of September 8 – December 31, 2020. Employees should work with their supervisor to schedule the floating holiday. Like most holidays, clinical services at the veterinary hospital will be adjusted on September 7th. Supervisors will share additional details in the near future.

The UTIA COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures (as updated June 3, 2020) state:

All UTIA employees should self-quarantine if they return from out-of-state travel, either university-related or personal. Details must be worked out with direct supervisors who will consider working remotely and/or leave in response to employees returning from travel, or other approaches to cover the absence from the office. If telecommuting is not possible, paid administrative leave of up to 10 working days may be available (limited to the employee’s regular wages without overtime) for university-related travel.

As we enter peak vacation season, UTIA employees are encouraged to take Annual Leave as planned but must be prepared to abide by self-quarantine guidelines if their plans include out-of-state travel. If telecommuting is not possible, employees may be required to use additional accrued leave to cover the self-quarantine period.

Since your travel will use up all your available leave, you are highly encouraged to discuss your situation with your supervisor prior to taking your leave so available options can be explored in advance.

Daily health screenings for employees reporting to campus are used to help determine the need to sanitize employee work spaces. Since your question involves activities that occur outside of your normal working hours and activities that are also outside of your responsibilities as an employee (i.e., personal activities done on your own time), there is no need to submit an employee health screening related to those visits. However, both the UT Gardens and the UT Veterinary Medical Center may have separate requirements for visitors for the purposes of contact tracing. Visitors to those facilities should follow their procedures.

Your question is complicated, as the answer varies across the state. Basically, county directors and regional directors will work with local county governments to determine appropriate staffing levels as individual counties enter new phases of the pandemic..

As stated in the UTIA COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures (June 3, 2020):

To help minimize exposure at work, supervisors are asked to work with all employees to identify remote working opportunities, flexible scheduling, or other creative approaches to reduce the risk of exposure while ensuring that critical responsibilities are carried out.

The UT Extension COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan refines that statement to reflect the various phases of the pandemic across the state:

County offices should be ready to adjust based on changes to CDC, state and local government and health officials’ guidance. Decisions for changes in staffing will be made in conjunction with county officials and regional directors. Data reported for each county should be considered when moving forward or backward between phases.

If you have additional questions or need clarification of your particular situation, contact your county director.

Answer: Decisions regarding re-opening phases depend, in part, on local conditions. Directors of county Extension Offices and AgResearch Centers will work with county government officials and UTIA administration to determine appropriate phases for returning to work. In some cases—travel is one example—decisions may be made that affect faculty and staff throughout the state. Please refer to the UTIA COVID-19 Guidelines and Procedures.

Information is still forthcoming. If you have a specific question, please reach out to your supervisor or Human Resources.

Thank you for your question.
A process for documenting the required flu vaccination is being finalized and instructions will be distributed to all employees soon. Exemptions will be permitted for medical or religious reasons, as to be detailed in the forthcoming policy. For now, it’s recommended that employees retain any documentation they receive from the vaccination provider.

The short answer is no; your paycheck will remain the same.

On August 28, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance that allowed employers to defer the collection of employees’ social security payments from September 1 through December 31, 2020. However, employees would then be required to pay regular contributions and the deferred amount starting in 2021.

After hearing from employees, consulting with state officials and leaders at other state universities, UT has agreed to follow the State of Tennessee’s policy and not to participate in this program. We will continue to collect regular social security payments so that employees are not disadvantaged by repaying the deferred amount in the new year.

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