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COVID-19 Event Guidelines

The University of Tennessee is committed to the health and wellness of our campus community. In an effort to keep our faculty, staff, and students safe, we have implemented new guidelines for all meetings and events occurring on campus during the pandemic. 

COVID-19 Meeting and Event Guidelines

Events hosted by units and organizations must be conducted in a safe and healthy manner. The University requires adherence to CDC/health department guidelines and the State of Tennessee large event guidelines at all times for meetings/events, unless an exception has been made by UT administration. These guidelines are subject to change.

  • Organizers should continually assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees (if possible) for large meetings/events.
  • Attendees are required to maintain social distancing (at least six feet) and wear face masks during all meetings/events as directed.
  • Room capacities should be temporarily adjusted to ensure appropriate social distancing. Organizers can contact Campus Event Services to ensure their meeting/event will fit in the requested space.
  • While UT Facilities Services will continually clean and disinfect spaces, not all rooms will be cleaned between meetings/events. Organizers and attendees should be cautious of touching surfaces and equipment that has not been disinfected from a previous group.
  • Non-UT visitors and guests must submit a Visitor Health Screening Form prior to the event. The sponsoring department hosting the meeting/event is responsible for ensuring the guest has completed the form before coming to campus. Visitors are required to complete this form each day for the duration of the meeting/event. (PDF version available here)
  • If someone has experienced any of the following, they should not attend on-campus activities:
    • Been advised to quarantine/isolate by a medical provider or health department
    • Have had face-to-face contact for 10 minutes or more with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19
    • Experienced a new cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
    • Experienced at least two of the following symptoms in the last 48 hours: fever, chills, repeated shaking chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell
    • Have had a temperature 100.4 or above this morning
  • If an attendee of a meeting/event thinks they may have been exposed to COVID-19, please contact the Office of Campus Event Services immediately so the appropriate parties may be notified.

Operational and Non-Operational Events

  • Operational events do not require an exception through the Exceptions Committee but should follow safety guidelines.
  • Non-operational events may require an exception through the Exceptions Committee and should follow safety guidelines.

What are operational events?

Operational events do not require approval from the Event Exceptions Committee but are subject to attendance limitations and should follow safety guidelines.  Operational events are defined as meetings/activities that are central to a unit’s core mission and should only be held if critical for that unit to function successfully.

Event size limitations are meant to limit the risk to participants at gatherings that are part of the campus community but not part of a business operation.  Operational activities are regulated by the space capacity, mitigation strategies implemented, and staffing planned by the unit responsible for the activity.

Examples include:

  • Programs that are initiated, planned, and managed/hosted by a university unit
  • Meetings (except student orgs)
  • Lectures/Guest speakers
  • Workshops/Trainings
  • Orientations
  • Labs
  • Recitals/Performances
  • Award ceremonies
  • Graduations
  • Academic-related activities

What are non-operational events?

Events that exceed 50 attendees and are not central to a unit’s core mission are not considered operational. Hosts of non-operational events are required to submit an Event Exception Request Form, for which all mitigation plans should be outlined.

Examples include:

  • Student-organized activities or programs (meetings or events even if administratively supported by a university unit)
  • Gaming or sporting activities
  • Movie nights
  • Banquets/Luncheons/any event involving meal services
  • Concerts
  • Celebrations/Appreciation events

Event organizers and department supervisors are responsible for ensuring all aspects of an event are compliant with COVID-19 safety protocol. Failure to comply may result in the temporary or permanent cancellation of all future events for that unit. If deemed necessary, UT Administration and Campus Event Services reserve the right to require a completed Event Exception Request Form for any event (this may include operational activities). Regardless of event size, event organizers must ensure the requested space meets the Knox County Health Board physical distancing requirements

See Information on Summer 2021 Overnight Events

Important Considerations for Event Organizers and Departmental Planners

  1. Consider each event and venue individually. What was sufficient for one event, may not be sufficient for all. If outdoors, what will your inclement weather plan be? If indoors, consider the type of room you are requesting. Separate plans will likely be needed for different venues.
  2. What is your rationale for hosting this event?
    • Is this event critical to your unit/organization’s mission?
    • Could this event be done virtually or in a hybrid manner? Be flexible!
  3. Think through the event completely from start to finish.
    • How are you tracking your attendees (required for contact tracing purposes)?
    • How will attendees enter the venue?
    • Are there multiple entrances to a space and if so, how will you block off those areas?
    • Are the entrances ones that bottleneck easily or are there chances for people to be within very close proximity of one another?
    • Will attendees be moving around freely during your event or will they have a single seat/spot/table/area they will stay at?
    • How are you ensuring that social distancing and mask wearing are adhered to at all times?
    • What is your dismissal plan? How will you make sure your attendees are just as safe leaving as they are while they are attending the event?
  4. Sufficient staffing is critical!
    • Consider the venue. Are there multiple entrances/exits that need to be monitored?
    • Are you prepared to confront someone who refuses to wear a mask/social distance and remove them from the event?
    • Do you have other tasks to complete while monitoring the crowd?
    • Are you monitoring entrances, exits, and lines for social distancing?
  5. Who will be in attendance?
  6. Will food be served?
    • How will you ensure social distancing while masks are off?
    • Additional staffing may be necessary.
    • Is there seating provided or is it a “grab-and-go” type of event?
    • Who is serving the food? Have they completed the ServSafe training?
    • How will the line flow be organized?
  7. Identify the high touch-point areas (i.e. writing utensils, door knobs, computers, sign in sheets, etc.).
    • Are you properly sanitizing after each use?
    • Are things individually packaged to avoid multiple people touching something?
    • Does your event involve games/activities?
  8. Don’t assume attendees will know what is required. Verbal and visual reminders are key!
  9. Know what you are responsible for if you are the host/event organizer.
    • Provide extra masks, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, etc.
    • Ensure all staff/volunteers are aware of and agree to their roles.
    • Have back up plans in mind or be ready to cancel if aspects of the event fall through.
    • Be prepared to confront and dismiss attendees if they are not following protocol.
    • Safety is more important than a smooth event. Increase safety protocol if necessary.
  10. If you are organizing and hosting an event, it is your responsibility to ensure compliance with all outlined plans. Should it become apparent that protocol was not followed or an exposure occurred during an event, future events submitted by that office/department/organization may be postponed or cancelled until further notice.
  11. Following these guidelines does not automatically ensure event approval. Events are reviewed on a case-by-case basis for appropriate risk mitigation and may or may not be approved.

How to Reserve Space

If your event is under 50 people or operational in nature, you must submit the Event Request form via Ad Astra.

If your event is over 50 people and non-operational, you must submit the Event Exception Request form via the Campus Event Services (CES) website. This request form requires detailed mitigation plans for your event, including how you will enforce social distancing, masking, etc. CES will contact you regarding the status of your event once it has been reviewed.

Tabling Guidelines

Tabling will be allowed during the spring semester with limitations. The following criteria must be followed:

  • Face coverings are required at all times (both attendees and hosts).
  • Maintain 6 feet physical distancing between all individuals.
  • Limit to no more than two organization representatives per six-foot table, distanced from one another at each end of the table horizontally.
  • Provide hand sanitizer at the table.
  • Use on-site event signage that includes university-approved print communications addressing mandatory face coverings and physical distancing in prominent locations (Available for download on the Facilities Services Website). Verbal reminders are encouraged as well.
  • Food may not be distributed without an approved Event Exception Request.
  • Consider methods for contactless distribution of information and items.
    • Utilize digital distribution of materials. Printed materials and physical items are not allowed.
  • Tabling is restricted to outdoor locations only.

NOT Permissible:

    • Food/Bake sales
    • Events with animals
    • Pie in the face, dunk tanks, inflatables
    • Sponsoring an external vendor
    • Supply donation drives
    • Financial donation drives (online donations only)
    • Merchandise sales (permissible with online purchases and shipments only)

Visitors/Guests on Campus:

If a reservation involves inviting visitors or guests to campus, please review the following documents:

Interim Policy for Visitors/Guests

Visitor on Campus Report and Mitigation Details

Visitor Health Screening Form