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EEB Community of Practice

EEB Community of Practice

To keep all students, post-doctoral researchers, staff (including non-departmental staff, such as custodians and facilities service employees) and faculty safe and healthy, EEB has enacted a community of practice for the EEB Department and its activities, including classroom teaching, research, and organizations such as Naturalist Club and GREBE. Our intention is to follow best practices and use Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and datatracker as a baseline but also incorporate additional protections as they seem appropriate to our community. Field work and lab work pose unique challenges, and we are fortunate to have disease experts within the department willing to offer their expertise to help mitigate risks for all.

Key ideas driving this document:

  • Individuals differ in the risk COVID-19 poses to them and to others in their household
  • Individuals differ in their tolerance of this risk
  • Individuals with the greatest tolerance of risk should not impose their standards on others
  • Individuals do not have to document or justify their own assessment of risk (i.e. medical conditions) to others to experience conditions that make them feel secure

Extending EEB Community of Practice policy: Individuals should feel empowered to take reasonable steps and be cautious for their own safety. If one needs to leave a space because it feels unsafe, please do so. Reporting this unsafe situation to department head, Jen Schweitzer ( is recommended, but not required. 

University policy: 

  • Individuals must comply with all University regulations

What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19

  • In the event of exposure to COVID-19, EEB community members must follow CDC guidelines


  • EEB community members who tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, must follow CDC guidelines
  • Those who are self-isolating are encouraged to complete the reporting form, as recommended by UT.

Mask protocol:

  • The chance of an infected person passing on the disease is substantially lowered by wearing an N95 or KN95 mask 
  • The chance of an uninfected person getting the disease is somewhat lowered by wearing a mask
  • Thus, choosing not to wear an effective mask is not so much assuming a risk to oneself as imposing a risk on another without their consent. This is contrary to EEB’s community standard of care for each other.
  • Masks must be worn properly: they should cover the mouth and nose. With a proper mask, it should be impossible to blow out a birthday candle: no one way valves, no big gaps on the side, no exposed nose.


  • All group meetings, such as departmental seminars, committee meetings, lab group meetings, and other discussion groups are encouraged to include a Zoom option. This includes student office hours.