By Farin Cloyd
CHATTANOOGA, TN- The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses, schools and the country will function for the foreseeable future. Colleges across the country must change the way classrooms, dining halls, and on-campus housing are formatted now to accommodate with CDC guidelines pertaining to the pandemic. UTC must take special attention to these changes, as the school is located in one of the virus’ hotspots.
According to the New York Times, Hamilton County was ranked fifth highest in the nation for the daily growth rate of coronavirus cases. Due to its location, UTC students, faculty, and staff are put in a dangerous situation as face-to-face classes resume in the fall.
“I am worried about my own safety as well as everyone else’s,” said Ryne Burden, an audio and video technician for the UTC Engineering department. “I just hope everyone follows the safety precautions.”
Chancellor Steven Angle released a three-step plan to reopen UTC’s campus in the fall which includes changing more classes to an all-online format, requiring masks in certain areas of campus, and rotating class attendance throughout the semester to lower the amount of people on campus at one time.
“If each of us does our part, we can make this work and resume campus operations while we protect the health and safety of our campus community,” said Chancellor Angle.
UTC’s reopening plan includes an expedited semester, ending before Thanksgiving and removing the observance of Labor Day or a Fall break. According to the plan, all finals will be held online to avoid large crowds on campus.
“I’m worried about my grades,” said Desiree Baker, a Freshman at UTC. “This is my first semester, and I don’t know how to balance online classes yet.”
Because of the drastic changes taking place, students, parents, and faculty have questions and concerns. UTC has compiled and answered a list of frequently asked questions to help clear any concerns the community may have. One of the most popular questions pertains to the distribution and mandatory wear of face masks on campus.
According to Chancellor Angle’s plan, students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks “inside buildings, in common spaces on campus and wherever social distancing is impossible.” UTC will also provide masks to all students and faculty at designated pickup areas across campus.
Additional information pertaining to UTC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is available at utc.edu.