November 19, 2021

1. COVID-19 Vaccine and Mask Mandates

The recent disagreement between federal and state laws regarding vaccination and masking requirements has caused confusion on how the UT Health Science Center will be impacted. UTHSC receives substantial federal funding, and is therefore designated as a federal subcontractor. On Monday evening, UT President Boyd received an exemption from Tennessee state law from the State Comptroller, superseding his earlier communication. Based on our status as a federal contractor, as well as the Federal CMS Mandate, UTHSC will need to come into compliance with the federal mask mandate and the federal vaccine mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all federal subcontractors.

The vaccine mandate requires ALL UTHSC EMPLOYEES to be fully vaccinated by Tuesday, January 18, 2022. This includes ALL part-time work study students, graduate students receiving a stipend, post-doctoral research trainees, clinical residents, and clinical fellows. Fully vaccinated means you must have received either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two weeks prior to January 18, 2022. These vaccines are readily available at multiple locations. To find available COVID-19 vaccines convenient to your location, please visit

While the vaccine mandate generally does not apply to students, UTHSC College of Dentistry students and Audiology and Speech Pathology students do fall under the Federal CMS Mandate, which requires them to be vaccinated because of their role in a health care clinic. The two federal mandates do not apply to any other UTHSC students in their role as students, regardless of campus, but they must comply with the mandates imposed by hospital and clinical training sites, as those institutions have set conditions and requirements for participation in clinical training. The mask mandate applies to everyone on UTHSC campuses, including students.

In order to comply with federal vaccine and masking mandates:

  1. All full-time and part-time UTHSC employees, contracted on-campus vendors, and designated students (College of Dentistry, Audiology and Speech Pathology) must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 18, 2022 or have a valid UT-approved exemption as required by this Executive Order.
  2. All UTHSC campuses will continue to follow the CDC’s current guidelines regarding masking, social distance, and other public health measures as required by this Executive Order. Currently, this requires masking and social distancing when indoors.

The UT religious exemption form is published on the UT System website at:

The UT medical exemption form is published on the UT System website at:

All UTHSC employees must upload either proof of vaccination or a valid UT-approved exemption in IRIS by January 18, 2022:

  • Log in to IRIS with your NetID and password
  • Click “Employee Self-Service”
  • Click “Personal Information”
  • Click “COVID-19 Vaccination Verification”
  • Fill out a brief form and upload a photo of either your vaccination card or your exemption
  • Click “Submit” to finish the verification process
The UT System has compiled answers to frequently asked questions and will continue to update these.

We will continue to keep you updated of any changes to the vaccination or masking mandates.

Thank you for your adherence to these vaccine and mask requirements, so that UTHSC may continue to receive federal funds to further the UTHSC mission!

Steve Schwab, MD

2. Campus Food Drive: November 22 – December 10

It is time again for our annual Campus Food Drive! All proceeds from the Campus Food Drive will go to the UTHSC Campus Cupboard benefitting the entire campus! The Campus Food Drive will accept non-perishable food, paper products, and monetary donations beginning Monday, November 22, through Friday, December 10. Please consider making a contribution and/or monetary donation to help support the UTHSC Campus Cupboard. To find out more about the UTHSC Campus Cupboard, including eligibility and hours of operation, please visit
Donation boxes will set up across campus:

  • Cancer Research Building
  • Coleman Building
  • Crowe Building
  • Dunn Dental Building
  • General Education Building
  • Madison Plaza
  • Mooney Building
  • Pauline Building
  • Pharmacy Building
  • Physical Plant
  • Student-Alumni Center
  • Translational Science Research Building
  • Van Vleet Building

Monetary donations can securely be made at   

Thank you for your continued support of this important initiative!

3. Collegiate Recovery Academy – December 2

UT has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to provide training for faculty and students to support the mental health and well-being of our students, including those in recovery from substance use disorder. This hybrid, event held on December 2, from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm EST, includes Recovery Ally Training, Question, Persuade, and Refer Suicide Training, and information about stimulants. Key speakers include UT System President Randy Boyd, Marie Williams, Commissioner of the TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Monty Burks, TN Faith Based Coordinator, and Karen Pershing, Executive Director of the Metro Drug Coalition. You may join the in-person gathering to view the event virtually as a group in room GEB A104 on the Memphis campus or attend virtually on your own. Please click here for agenda and registration link.

Register for the Collegiate Recovery Academy

4. Catch Up on Departmental Newsletters

Keep up with news from Human Resources, Information Technology Services, and the Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity with their newsletters:

5. Change in Email Forwarding Policy for Faculty, Staff, and Students Beginning December 14

Starting December 14, all UT faculty, staff, students, and departmental accounts will no longer be able to automatically forward university emails to a personal email address.

For anyone automatically forwarding your email to a non-UT email address, ITS recommends that you begin using your UTHSC email account as soon as possible to prevent an interruption in services.

UT’s Microsoft 365 Outlook is available for all. You can learn more about your UT email account options in TechConnect. Additional information about this change will be available later this month.

What if I have a business reason for an exemption?
We continue to evaluate the use of auto-forwarding for work-related exceptions. Faculty and staff will be able to request an exemption for qualifying email domains later this month.

Why is the University making this change?
Forwarding your email to an external email address presents an unnecessary risk to the university. It does not relieve the university or employee from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or other types of discovery. Therefore, the restrictions on email forwarding are made as part of a continuous effort to protect the university’s information.

To view past editions of the 5 Quick Things, please visit the 5 Quick Things Archive.
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