Faculty, Staff, and Students,
UTHSC will enter the final phase of our planned scaled return to activities on July 1, with the goal of having a fully functioning academic enterprise for the fall semester. This date marks the beginning of the semester for many of our programs. Our regional campuses will follow the procedures of the county or city where they reside and will abide by the policies and procedures of our partner hospitals. In Memphis, clinical rotations will follow the rules and guidelines of our partner institutions.
The New Normal: This resumption of UTHSC activities is accompanied by stringent COVID-19 safety measures. We fully understand that COVID-19 is not eliminated, but is minimized by these safety measures. We expect to maintain these safety measures as the new normal until the disease is controlled. In the absence of a vaccine, this may take some time. In the new COVID-19 normal, it remains our expectation that all work that can be done at home, will be done at home. Individual supervisors will be making these decisions with assistance from the campus. Student work that can be done at home should also be done at home.
CAMPUS AND FACILITIES
The campus and facilities ramp up is in full swing under the new normal.
Safety measures for all faculty, staff, and students on campus have been announced. These include 6 ft. social distancing, frequent hand washing, the wearing of face masks while on campus, and reduction of population density on campus. In addition:
- Building access into most buildings will be directed to temperature check screenings stations listed here.
- Limited personnel will be allowed on elevators at the same time in an attempt to maintain social distancing.
- All faculty, staff, and students will be required to complete an online COVID-19 education training before returning to campus via Blackboard.
- The UT System is in the process of determining the status of COVID-19 testing for students returning to campus.
- The UTHSC policy, pending action by the UT Board of Trustees, is that we COVID-19 test for cause and when required for clinical rotations.
- We have established a COVID-19 testing facility on the Memphis campus at the Student-Alumni Center (SAC). The SAC testing site is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 12:00 – 4:00 pm and Saturdays 1:00 – 3:00 pm with no appointment necessary for faculty, staff, and students. This site is for asymptomatic people only. For more information, please refer to this announcement.
Ramp up for all support services is in progress and near completion:
- There is substantial modification of simulation, teaching lab, and some small group session areas with plexiglass partitions and floor tape to define social distancing.
- Health Sciences Library is open with modified hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm) and population density requirements. Building access will be limited to keep population density at acceptable levels. Students may make a reservation for the next day online at the UTHSC Library website beginning at 12:00 pm on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations will close at 8:00 pm.
- Food Services will opening back up after the educational programs have started and worked out any issues. In the Food Court, Soi No. 9 reopened June 22. We will also have a new Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A soon. Starbucks is slated to open July 13, with Chick-fil-A projected to open in August.
- The VolShop is operating with limited hours – Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. They are currently available for computers, monitors, tablets, etc. by email.
- General Stores will open to support research needs.
- For student support services, the Bursars Office and Financial Aid are preparing to go to full operation with staff on campus. Other student support services, such as SASSI, Registrar, International Affairs, and Admissions continue to be fully operational while remaining online.
- University Health Services is in full operation – open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (closed daily from 1:00 – 2:00 pm for lunch), and Wednesdays 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.
The phased ramp up of laboratory-based research is complete.
Laboratory Research: UTHSC has developed guidelines for the safe conduct of laboratory research. All PIs must fill out the required checklist that verifies an understanding of the new guidelines for their laboratory before moving to full operation.
Clinical Research: Guidelines for the conduct of clinical research will follow University Health Service’s clinic visit protocol. All activities and surveys that can be conducted remotely will be conducted remotely. Individual principal investigators will determine which portions of the research require the participant to come to a study site. These guidelines are linked here.
Studies done in our partner facilities will follow the rules and guidelines of the partner institution.
On campus ramp up to full function begins July 1, 2020.
Clinical off campus rotation ramp up began June 1, 2020 with clinical rotations at partner institutions now in full swing.
Didactic Lectures: These will remain online to start the semester. Adjustments will be made as the situation dictates.
Labs: Wet and dry labs, simulation, and small group sessions will be conducted with appropriate safeguards and social distancing. Details will be provided by the colleges following consultation with the Chief Academic Officer.
Clinical On Campus Rotations: These will start up in a phased manner using clinic visit protocol as developed by University Health Services in conjunction with national accrediting body guidelines and social distancing.
Clinical Off Campus Rotations: These began on June 1 in keeping with and following the guidelines of our partner teaching institutions as well as our accrediting bodies.
Some hospitals require COVID-19 testing before starting rotations (variable requirements ranging from 72 hours to 14 days before starting). As mentioned above, UTHSC has established a COVID-19 testing facility on the Memphis campus at the Student-Alumni Center (SAC). The SAC testing site is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 12:00 – 4:00 pm and Saturdays 1:00 – 3:00 pm with no appointment necessary for faculty, staff, and students. This site is for asymptomatic people only. For more information, please refer to this announcement.
Secure Testing: This testing will begin using campus guidelines and policy on social distancing.
Thank you for all of your efforts as we continue to manage through this pandemic and maintain a safe environment on campus.
Steve J. Schwab, MD