University of Tennessee at Knoxville has initiated disciplinary proceedings against four students for “endangering the health, safety and welfare of others,” related to COVID-19, Chancellor Donde Plowman said.
Three of the four students could face punishment because they threw a party that did not follow social distancing or mask usage rules. The fourth student faces punishment because he or she left self-isolation after they tested positive for COVID-19, Plowman said in a message to students Monday. The students were not identified.
“If the facts reported to the university are accurate, these students will face at least suspension from the university, and potentially greater penalties,” Plowman said in the message.
The four students violated “the Student Code of Conduct by endangering the health, safety, and welfare of others,” Plowman said.
The message comes a week after Plowman threatened to expel students who threw parties or did not comply with requests from the university’s contact tracers. UT identified its first cluster of cases related to an off-campus party on Laurel Avenue last week.
“We will hold you responsible, and it’s possible that you could be expelled from school and I will not hesitate to do that if our students are irresponsible,” Plowman said in a COVID-19 update last week.
Classes began at the Knoxville campus last week.
On Friday, Plowman said she would not back down from that statement and asked students to be willing to make sacrifices to keep the community safe. Plowman and Dr. Spencer Gregg, director of the Student Health Center, emphasized the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.
“Whether you’re on campus or off campus, all of us depend on you doing your part to keep the rest of us safe,” Gregg said Friday. “If one person tests positive, that’s potentially three or four more people or more who have to go into quarantine.”
On Monday, the university reported 136 active cases of COVID-19. Of those, 128 are students and eight are employees. The university also reported 444 people in self-isolation, including 263 students living off campus, 113 students living on campus and 68 employees.