Last updated: July 28 at 7:30 p.m.

The FAQs will be updated frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Health & Safety | In the classroom | Student Life | Tuition & Finances
Masking | Testing| QuarantineContact Tracing

University Health Services

Community Health Commitments & Interim Policies

The health and safety of our campus and community involves each of us—students, faculty, staff, and Sewanee residents. In order to return safely to campus and enjoy an on-campus experience, we must all commit to doing our part to help prevent an outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus. This is most clearly stated in a set of Community Health Commitments every member of the Sewanee community is expected to support and also outlined in the Interim Policies.

Masking Requirement


All University employees, students, Sewanee residents and visitors are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in public or inside buildings other than private residences, with five exceptions:

  1. When they are alone, 
  2. When they are asleep (such as in a residence hall room or hotel room), 
  3. When they are eating or drinking, 
  4. When they are maintaining a social distance of six feet or more from any other person, and
  5. If they have a documented medical condition that precludes their wearing a face covering. 

Certain events or facilities may have additional masking rules. You should always have a mask with you—and when in doubt, wear your mask. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks, PPE, medical face masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.

Will The University Supply Masks?

Yes. Students will be provided with two masks each when they arrive on campus. We strongly encourage students to bring their own masks so clean ones available when needed.


Unless instructed otherwise, residents of campus housing are not required to wear a face covering or to socially distance while alone in their own room or suite.


Face shields may not be substituted for masks or cloth face coverings. Shields protect the eyes of the wearer from external spray, but do not effectively cover the nose and mouth. Face masks protect others from the wearer, who might unknowingly be infected. The greater concern now is the virus being carried in the air from a mouth or nose. A cloth face covering—when we all participate—will significantly decrease the spread of the virus. Anyone wearing a face shield must still wear a face covering or mask.


Will I be tested when I arrive on campus?

Yes. The University will test all students upon arrival at Cravens Hall located on Kentucky Avenue on campus. Testing will occur early in the morning on the student's assigned arrival date—between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. The University also will test employees prior to the start of the semester.

Should I get a test before I come to campus?

While you may be able to be tested before coming to campus, because a test only reflects your status at a certain point in time, you will be tested again upon arrival at Sewanee even if you receive a negative test result at home. If you are tested at home and receive a positive test result within the two weeks prior to your scheduled arrival on campus, please contact University Health Services (931.598.1270) to report your results and discuss your plan for isolation and delayed arrival to campus.


Not necessarily. If a student has recovered from COVID-19 symptoms, has completed a full isolation period and then tests positive at Sewanee’s arrival assessment, that does not mean that they will be sent home immediately to isolate. Part of our arrival testing process will include these questions: Have you recently been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19? Have you had a positive COVID-19 test result in the past few months? Did you complete the required isolation period? Sewanee’s public health team will evaluate this situation on a case-by-case basis. 

What kind of test is Sewanee using?

The University has developed a testing program partnership with Chattanooga-based Baylor Esoteric and Molecule Lab. The test is a self-administered saliva test (nucleic acid assay) and is the most accurate form of testing. Nearly all results arrive within 6 to 8 hours, but in some limited cases may be delayed.

What happens after MY COVID-19 test?

Students will not be permitted to access their residential buildings or move into their rooms prior to receiving a negative COVID-19 test result. We have developed two options for you to consider as you await your test results. As a reminder, it may take up to 6 or 7 hours to receive your results. 

Option 1

If you will arrive on campus with your family, you will have the opportunity to remain with your family (staying away from all others) until you receive your test results. Once you have received a negative COVID-19 test result, you are free to go to your assigned room and move in. Remember, only you are permitted to move your belongings into your room. Family or friends are not permitted into the residence halls. #ProtectTheBubble. 

Option 2

If you arrived by yourself or choose not to remain with your family, you will be placed into a small group with nine of your peers. You will remain in this group until your test results are returned. Each group will have a staff member to welcome you and to be with you throughout this time. Food will be provided and activities offered, including a required online COVID-19 training. Weather permitting, groups may decide to spend some time outdoors together. 

Please see this page for more details and a link to let us know which option you choose.

What if my test is positive?

Students who receive a positive test result for COVID-19 will need to return home for at least 10 days of isolation and recovery if you remain symptom free. During which a student can continue classes by remote means from home. Students who are unable to return home quickly and safely will isolate and recover on campus; the University has housing options and a plan for their care.

Will I be tested again during the semester?

Possibly. The University plans to conduct periodic (surveillance) testing throughout the semester, using the same type of test described above. You may be subject to more frequent testing if you are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, or if you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive.  

How will the University decide if someone is at a higher risk of exposure?

Here are the factors that the University will assess in determining a person's risk of exposure:

  • The use of a personal vehicle
  • Participation in varsity athletics
  • Commuters who live in nearby cities and commute to campus
  • Employees who (or employees with partners who) travel as part of their job requirements
  • Parent(s) with school-aged children or children in childcare settings
  • Health care providers
  • Employees who work in food preparations
  • Students who are employed or involved in community work outside of campus
  • Students who have a conduct record and repeated community standards violations

We are monitoring the local, state, and national situation daily. We will consider Rt figures, hospital capacity, average new cases per day (on campus, in the county, and in the region) and other data to make policy decisions regarding changes that affect students on campus.

Quarantine and isolation (back to top)

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is used to keep someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Isolation is used to separate someone with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 (both those who are sick with COVID-19 and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.

Should I quarantine at home before I come to campus for the fall semester?

Yes. Beginning two weeks prior to their assigned arrival day, we recommend that students complete a 14-day quarantine at home. (Please see CDC guidelines for instructions on how to quarantine.) Once the 14-day quarantine period is complete, and if students have no COVID-19 symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19, they may travel to campus. While in transit, students are expected to maintain physical distancing, wear face coverings, practice frequent hand-washing, and follow all applicable CDC and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines.

Under what conditions might I need to quarantine during the semester?

Individuals will be requested to quarantine if they have come into close contact with someone who has a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. Although various agencies define “close contact” differently, the University currently defines it as follows:

  • Individuals who are known to have been in contact (within 6 feet) for 15 minutes or longer with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. 
  • Individuals who have attended in-person classes or participated in activities with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 and who had close contact (within 6 feet for over 15 minutes). 
  • Individuals who share a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and/or common living space with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19.

The amount of time spent in quarantine will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, all quarantined individuals will need to test negative for COVID-19 and remain symptom-free for several days before returning to their usual campus activities.

Where will the University quarantine and isolate students if needed?

The University has identified local facilities or students who need to quarantine, become sick or who test positive for COVID-19 to be safely isolated from other students and community members. Care will be provided and meals will be delivered. The University also maintains a close partnership with the on-campus hospital to manage any severe health challenges.

Students who need to quarantine (who might have been exposed but are not sick) will be managed on a case-by-case basis. They will receive support for food and online learning until they are medically cleared to re-engage.

Can/should I return home to quarantine or isolate?

Students who live within a day’s driving distance should have someone pick them up and drive them straight home for 14 days of quarantine, during which a student can continue classes online from home. (The University can assist students who need IT support at home.) Students who would require a flight to get home (e.g., international students or those from more than a day's drive away) will quarantine at a location designated by the University. University health officials will make medical determinations and assign students with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to isolation housing specifically designated for that purpose. The University has designated quarantine and isolation spaces for students.

Can I keep up with my classes if I’m quarantined or in isolation?

Yes. Student participation in classes when quarantined or isolated will continue if the student is well enough to do so. All faculty members will share course materials via the new learning management system, including recordings of class lectures and other relevant resources, for students who cannot be present physically for some period of time.

How will sick students be cared for?

Students will receive medical care from the health care professionals in our University Wellness Center. Care may be provided via telemedicine or in-person follow-up. The University also maintains a close partnership with the on-campus hospital to manage any severe health challenges.

How long does isolation or quarantine last?
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked to be in isolation for a designated amount of time, depending on when your symptoms began.
  • If you have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, you will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from the time of your last exposure.
  • If you are sick and awaiting test results, you may be asked to quarantine until the results are received.

Contact tracing and notification (back to top)

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing monitors the close contacts of infected people, and notifies those contacts of their exposure.  

How will contact tracing happen at Sewanee?

The University must notify the Tennessee Health Department when anyone tests positive. The Health Department is responsible for contact tracing. To support the Health Department’s efforts, students must be responsible for knowing and tracking their encounters each day with others outside of class (write them down and record the date). When a student receives a positive diagnosis, they must review the list of contacts during the two days prior to experiencing symptoms and notify those individuals that they have been exposed. If a student is too sick to contact others, the University’s tracers will offer support. The University will ask for this list of names to verify that contact has been made with each close contact who resides in the Sewanee community—students, employees, or community members on the Domain.

Who will contact me if I’ve been exposed?

The University will partner with the local health department. In case of exposure to someone with COVID-19, you may be notified by the Tennessee Department of Health, University Health Services, a campus contact tracer, and/or the University Office of Risk Management. You might speak with a combination of these departments in the interest of timeliness and depending on your need for campus services.


You will be asked to then quarantine and study/work remotely until your quarantine time frame is over (14 days from the time of exposure).

How will I know if I’ve been exposed to the virus?

In case of exposure to someone with COVID-19, you may be notified by the Tennessee Department of Health, University Health Services, a campus contact tracer, and/or the University Office of Risk Management. You might speak with a combination of these departments in the interest of timeliness and depending on your need for campus services. You will be asked to quarantine and study/work remotely until your quarantine time frame is over (14 days from the time of exposure).

University Health Services (back to top)

Is it safe to go to University Health Services if I don’t have COVID-19 symptoms? What safety measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within UHS facilities?

University Health Services is committed to providing quality care in an environment that is safe for everyone. To that end, UHS will offer appointments at specific times of the day for those who are well and will designate rooms for well visits only. Additionally, UHS will rotate rooms for sick visits, allowing for time for room sanitation in between patient visits. UHS will continue to provide remote telehealth services as well, in order to decrease the in-house patient load and decrease student exposure. UHS offers tele-counseling and telemedicine appointments conducted through a secure, and HIPAA compliant, portal.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

Students should call UHS for triage, appointment, and testing options. Students with upper respiratory infection symptoms can be tested at University Health Services.

How is the University addressing the additional mental health challenges during the pandemic?

The University Wellness Center and Wellness Promotion and Outreach Teams of the University Wellness Commons are aware of the mental health impacts of the global pandemic on our students. We are being faced with great uncertainty and unprecedented grief about how life has shifted since March 2020, though for us, the story does not end there. We are still committed to building and nourishing a Flourishing community in the midst of this pandemic. The University Wellness Commons will provide an array of offerings during Advent 2020 including several drop-ins, virtual workshops focused on stress management, coping in the time of COVID, healthy relationships and communication, and open forums to Ask a Therapist Anything. The entire University will also have free access to a mental health support app called Sanvello. This app is meant to be an adjunct to traditional therapy, and can be used by anyone with a account. See more details in the future about Sanvello on the UWC webpage and through social media. Additionally, there will be a peer health education program designed with the goal of allowing for peer support of your health and wellness. Outdoor and virtual fitness offerings, live streamed meditation sessions, and the UWC social media content will all be avenues for accessing mood-boosting tools. Please join us as we take care of ourselves and this community! 

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