Faculty, Staff, and Students:
UTHSC is in the midst of our planned scaled return to activities with the goal of having a fully functioning academic enterprise for the fall semester. This semester begins in the summer 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 with partners 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 be 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.
Ramp up for all support services is underway to be ready for the return of research and education to campus under the new normal:
- 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 will reopen June 2 with modified hours and population density requirements. Building access will be limited to keep population density at acceptable levels.
- Food Services will open back up after the educational programs have started and worked out any issues. In the Food Court, we will have a new Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A.
- The VolShop will have limited hours when Food Services opens back up. 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.
The phased ramp up of laboratory-based research begins June 1, 2020.
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 begins July 1, 2020.
Clinical off campus rotation ramp up begins June 1, 2020.
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 begin 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).
- The Tiger Lane testing site is doing scheduled testing of students and faculty. Waivers signed on site allow results to be released to University Health Services, which can then release to the colleges. The colleges release results to the rotation sites. Students can access their results via their electronic portal. Initially, due to time constraints, some results have been emailed to students. The colleges will schedule and provide follow up.
- UTHSC is creating an onsite COVID-19 testing facility in the SAC. We will announce when this opens.
Secure Testing: This testing will begin using campus guidelines and policy on social distancing.
Thank you all for making the extra effort that has allowed us to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain a safe environment on campus.
Steve J. Schwab, MD