The purpose of this page is to help employees understand how interim modifications to University policies may impact them as we move into and operate throughout the 2021–2022 academic year. It is the University’s intent that these policies and statements supplement existing University policies within the Staff Handbook rather than replace them. As always, employees are encouraged to contact Human Resources should they have any questions or concerns or need additional clarification.

Our goal, as ever, is to maintain essential and safe operations while preventing the spread of COVID-19 as we host students on campus.


Time Away From Work

Quarantine and Isolation Policy–updated July 30, 2021

The CDC defines isolation as separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick, and quarantine as separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. The following scenarios may result in an employee being required to quarantine or isolate. 

  • Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Employees who have recently had close contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Employees who have symptoms of respiratory illness must stay home until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
  • Any employee who has traveled to a location with a COVID-19 outbreak, where the infection rate is greater than 1.0, who experiences fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days after leaving such location must do one of the following:
    • call their physician’s office for advice and tell them about recent travel and symptoms
    • quarantine if their health care provider suspects or tests for COVID-19.

The period of quarantine or isolation should be determined by the University's Office of Public Health in consultation with the TN Health Department. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for the period of time determined by the University's Office of Public Health in consultation with the TN Health Department. Employees required to quarantine or isolate must follow the directions of their health care provider and the CDC’s self-isolation recommendations and must contact the Office of Public Health as well as their dean, department chair, or supervisor (as applicable), and Human Resources.

Leave of Absence Without Pay–published June 15, 2020

Without limiting the use or applicability of Leaves of Absence Without Pay or Family and Medical Leave as stated in the Staff Handbook, unpaid leave may also be granted to staff members who are unable to perform the essential functions of their position while working remotely, have exhausted all applicable paid leave, and who:

  • Are told to quarantine or isolate by a healthcare provider due to vulnerability to COVID-19, or
  • Refuse to report to work due to COVID-19 related concerns*

Staff members who are away from work in excess of accrued leave and have been granted a leave of absence without pay will not generally be disciplined and will retain their eligibility for benefits. Staff members should contact Human Resources to request a leave of absence without pay.

*Employees who feel they are unable to return to work due to being at increased risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms must contact Human Resources and provide documentation from a health care provider certifying that they should not return to work. 

Health and Safety


Community Health Policy Statement–published July 14, 2020

We have established health strategies, policies, and the support necessary to safely operate the University while hosting students on campus. Specifically, we are focused on testing, tracing, isolation, and other environmental mitigation efforts to reduce the likelihood of viral spread. As a community of friends and colleagues, we’re in this together. As such, employees working on campus are expected to adhere to all health and safety policies as a condition of continued employment. Simply stated, the risks posed to our collective well-being (physical, mental and financial) are simply too great to allow for nonadherence to these policies and they will be strictly enforced across all segments of our campus population. 

Please note that some departments and/or work areas, such as Sewanee Dining, may establish more stringent requirements due to the nature of their functions. Please contact your supervisor should you have any questions about these. 

Face Coverings Policy–updated March 4, 2022

Based on a review of the CDC's new three-level system, which revises guidance on indoor masking, the University masking policy is as follows:

  • Effective March 4, 2022, and until further notice, masking in indoor spaces is now optional with the following exceptions:
    • All visitors to University Health Services (UHS) must continue to wear a mask, according to its stated policies.
    • Faculty may require masks to be worn in their classes, laboratories, studios, and offices.
    • Staff members may require masks to be worn in their offices. 
Contact Tracing Policy–published July 14, 2020

Employees who receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis are expected to self-report to Human Resources. All employees are responsible for knowing and tracking their encounters each day with others and for participating in the University’s contact tracing efforts, as appropriate. More information about the University's contact tracing processes can be found in our FAQ–Employee Health & Safety.

Additional Posted Requirements Statement–published July 14, 2020

Some departments, areas or locations may require adherence to additional guidelines in order to maintain the health and safety of our community. Employees are expected to adhere to the specific guidelines posted or provided at a given location, e.g. University Child Care Center, McClurg Dining Hall, Stirling’s Coffee House, campus events, elevators, etc. 

COVID-19 Vaccination policy statement–PUBLISHED August 26, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines are an effective and critical tool to combat COVID-19 and allow for another successful year of in-person, residential education. According to the CDC, the vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be safe and effective. Current data also suggests that vaccinated individuals are less likely to become infected—even by the Delta variant—and the vaccines are highly effective against the most severe consequences of COVID-19.

In accordance with University of the South’s duty to provide and maintain a workplace that is free of known hazards, all full-time and part-time University of the South-employed faculty and staff (employees) are required to have received at least one shot of a two-dose regimen (for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Oct. 8, 2021.

View the full COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement & Reporting Policy.

View answers to common questions concerning the policy.