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Research Operations during COVID-19

COVID-19 Research Information

Transitioning Health Safety Expectations for Research Operations

Updated September 17, 2021

As indicated in Chancellor Plowman’s August 2 message to the campus community, with vaccines readily available, we are relying on members of our research community to make informed decisions about their health and how to protect themselves. The spread of the Delta variant in our community makes these personal health decisions more critical than ever.

We encourage all Vol researchers to get vaccinated.  Additionally, in response to increasing spread of the Delta variant, students, faculty, and staff are now required to wear masks in research labs and in other indoor research settings. This is particularly important in places where social distancing options are limited or where multiple individuals must share an indoor space or lab for a period of time.

For researchers whose activities occur off-campus, please continue to follow any additional requirements that may be in place at those sites.  For example, some of our research partners, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have implemented policies that REQUIRE that UTK faculty, staff and students provide proof of vaccination in order to be granted access to their research sites.   In the vast majority of cases, UTK researchers who choose not to meet the policy requirements of these partners will be unable to engage in research and related activities at the partner sites, and students may be unable to progress in their academic programs.  If you are engaged in research in locations off-campus, please do familiarize yourself with the vaccination requirements of your host organization.

We will continually re-evaluate the need for masks based on COVID-19 case counts in our community.

The guidance summarized above informs our updated policies for pandemic-related health safety practices in research operations.

For more information on university guidance during COVID-19, please visit

Additional Information