UTIA Family, please refer to utk.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates and student information. For UTIA-specific resources, including event information and county office status, please visit utia.tennessee.edu/coronavirus .

UT Extension COVID-19 Response

Updated August 5, 2020

  1. Current Re-entering the Workplace Guidelines for Extension Staff are found here:
  2. Extension staff will continue their work and be available by phone and/or email during work hours.

  3. Supervisors should communicate regularly with staff to establish expectations for work goals and reporting of accomplishments.

  4. Employees working from home will continue to take sick and annual leave as needed if unable to perform their work duties.

  5. Effective July 1, 2020, employees shall discuss workplace reentry plans for out of state domestic travel with their immediate supervisor. This will include travel for personal and business reasons. Reentry plans must be agreed upon with their immediate supervisor in regards to workplace reentry. Questions to be discussed include:
    1. What is the mode of travel to the out-of-state destination?
    2. Was the incidence of positive COVID-19 cases at the destination much higher than the number of cases in the county of the employee’s office (i.e., was the destination considered to be a “hotspot” for COVID-19 cases)?
    3. Does the employee’s job require close direct contact with other employees upon their return?
    4. What health and safety practices were practiced during the trip (face coverings, social distancing with other individuals, etc.)?
    5. Is it possible to telecommute upon return without adverse impacts on job requirements or performance? If telecommuting is not possible, paid administrative leave of up to 10 working days may be available (limited to the employee’s regular wages without overtime) for university-related travel.

Reentry plans may include a 14 day self-quarantine if employee is visiting high risk areas or exposed to high risk travel environments. If discussions about reentry procedures do not lead to a clear, mutually agreed upon plan, the supervisor should contact their Regional Director or the Dean’s office.

  1. Effective 3/09/2020 employees that travel internationally or travel on a cruise ship will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return to Tennessee.

  2. Extension educational programming using alternative methods is preferred when possible and/or practical.

  3. Effective July 1, 2020 employees are allowed to conduct face to face meetings for up to 50 people. This includes 4-H Centers and Lone Oaks Farms. External group events planned at 4-H Centers or Lone Oaks Farms for over 50 people will be allowed to reschedule without penalty. Meetings must be consistent with the Tennessee Pledge and conducted according to CDC guidelines. Provisions must be made for sanitation, health screening, face coverings, social distancing, etc. as described in UTIA guidelines. Request to conduct meetings with more than 50 people must be submitted to the Dean’s office.

  4. As many businesses, organizations, and agencies re-open throughout the state, employees may be invited to attend or participate in in-state face to face meetings, activities, and events. Before deciding to participate, faculty and staff should consider the following questions and discuss attendance with their supervisor:
    1. Does the individual want to attend and feel safe doing so?
    2. How large is the group and how large is the venue?
    3. Are they putting any others (co-workers, family members) at risk if they go?
    4. Are there measures in place at the venue to limit exposure to the coronavirus (social distancing, masks, sanitizers, etc.) consistent with CDC guidelines?
    5. Has the individual developed plans to self-quarantine for 14 days if one or more meeting participants test positive for COVID-19 after the meeting?
    6. In what capacity is the individual participating – as a presenter or panel member, or as an attendee? If an attendee, what is the anticipated knowledge gain or contribution to the discussion, and how critical is that knowledge or contribution to the Institute’s mission?
    7. Is there an option to participate remotely, and if so, why is physical attendance being considered?

Decisions about participating in such meetings and/or potential self-quarantine after returning from these meetings should be made by supervisors in advance of attendance based on answers to these and other relevant questions.s.

It would be recommended that individuals self-quarantine for 14 days after attending very large meetings or where they feel that measures were inadequate to reduce exposure to the coronavirus (lack of social distancing, lack of face mask use at the venue, etc.). This recommendation would remain in effect until July 31, 2020.

  1. Supervisors may authorize the payment of a technology or cell phone stipend of up to $50 from unit gift accounts or F&A returns for employees (both exempt and non-exempt staff) who are not currently receiving a stipend. These stipends should be provided to employees who will actively using personal cell phones or internet services to telecommute.

  2. County Directors should work closely with local county government to determine any additional precautions that should be taken within each County Extension office and work closely with local county government to serve as a resource in assisting county governments with COVID-19 suppression and mitigation efforts.

Working with county fairs, livestock shows and judging events

UT Extension administration has received several questions and concerns related to county extension staff involvement in county fairs and livestock shows. Most counties have cancelled fairs; however, there are some fairs that are moving forward and several livestock shows are taking place. Below are guidelines to consider when making plans to work at these events.

  • If you plan to work an event, please make your supervisor aware of it and disclose it. We want to make sure that UT Extension is a part of the planning of these events if they occur in our counties and to minimize any misrepresentation if our personnel are involved even if they are on annual leave.
  • It is fine for extension agents/program assistants to help with planning and set-up for the fair if the appropriate safety protocols are in place. Please work with your colleagues and supervisors to create these safety protocols.
  • Please refer to the Center for Disease Control, the UTIA Coronavirus website, or the UT Extension Coronavirus website for the latest information and safety guidelines.
  • Livestock shows being conducted should adhere to all of the recommendations set forth by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. If these safety protocols are not used, extension agents and program assistants do not have to participate with the show(s).

Please note:

  • Working at the fair or livestock show is not mandatory for any employee. Employees should only work if they feel comfortable with the work environment. Questions or concerns should be addressed with the employee’s supervisor.
  • If employees choose not to work at the event, please communicate with your fair leadership so they can make alternative arrangements to cover duties.
  • If any employee chooses to work during the event, they may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days following the last day they attended if the event did not appear to adhere to recommendations set forth by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and/or other safety protocols.

These guidelines are in place to provide flexibility during the pandemic with a focus on safety for our employees and clientele we serve. Please work with your supervisors to follow these guidelines. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in disciplinary actions.

COVID-19 Resources

Information from UT Extension experts regarding the new coronavirus strain.