BY SABRINA BATES
MARTIN (September 10) – University of Tennessee at Martin Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver hosted an afternoon Zoom conference Thursday, September 10, 2020, to field questions sent in by parents and students of UT Martin. The conference was scheduled to address issues pertaining to COVID-19.
Carver explained the difference between isolation and quarantine. Isolation was a 10-day period for students and faculty who had contact with COVID-19 and quarantine was a 14-day period for those who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The chancellor explained the university did not contact parents on behalf of students unless a student requested it. He said the faculty depends on the students and appropriate health officials to perform contact tracing and necessary notifications.
When asked what “number” of positive cases of COVID-19 would result in the closure of the university, Carver responded there was no “magic” number, but it was fluid.
“We want to stay here all semester,” Carver noted. He said conditions on campus, in the community and recommendations by the university’s task force determine what phases UT Martin conducts classes and scheduling of events and extracurricular activities. The chancellor did announce the campus will not offer a family weekend event this fall.
Carver explained the university is asking students to act as if the coronavirus is everywhere and follow masking and social-distancing recommendations. The university has 34 isolation rooms for students who need to be separated after contact with someone who has COVID-19. Carver said the availability of isolation rooms is a factor in determining next steps for campus instruction.
At the time of the Zoom conference, there were 32 active cases of COVID-19 among students and 1 positive faculty/staff member.
He announced cafeteria workers were asked to wear gloves and masks while serving food and workers provided extra sanitizing of the cafeteria.
One parent asked Carver what she should do for a student who is struggling with an online course and feels as if there is a lack of response from the professor. Carver recommended the parent and student reach out to the student’s advisor or department chair. He also reminded those in the virtual conference to utilize the campus’ Student Success Center to get help for courses as the services are free and in place for UTM students.
The chancellor reported housing numbers were down about 10 percent overall for the university, with about 1,500-1,600 students living on campus this semester. He also encouraged participants to visit utm.edu for daily data pertaining to the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus and general information in response to the health pandemic and its impact on the university.
Before he closed the session, Carver announced there is another 30-minute Zoom conference set for 4 p.m., Thursday, September 17. Sessions are recorded and archived for 24 hours.
He also asked parents who were interested in him sending a personal message to their students to reach out through his Instagram account, kc4utm, with the student’s name.
“We appreciate your trust. You’ve given us your most precious cargo and we thank you all for entrusting us with your children,” Carver stated.
Students are invited to walk with Carver and the Healthy Hawks from noon until 1 p.m., Thursday, September 24 in the campus quad. Participants are asked to wear a mask and walking shoes for the monthly walk.