UT offers relocated students housing refund options

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The University of Tennessee announced that over 500 students would be relocated so the school can remove mold from Laurel Hall.

According to a release from the university, the building will be closed for the rest of the academic year to clean it.

Over the next few weeks, the building's 586 residents will be relocated for the fall and spring semesters.

Elevated levels of mold were found in several rooms and common areas of the building; however, the university says it has no reason to believe that there are major health and safety risks.

"First and foremost, our concern is for our students' health and safety," said Chandra Myrick, executive director of University Housing. "In this instance, we know moving will be disruptive to their semester, so we are providing as many resources and as much support as we can to help through this process."

The university "will provide a moving timeline and offer accommodation options to Laurel Hall residents."

At this time, the school is still lining up on-campus and off-campus housing.

According to a release sent to students, they will be able to receive a refund of their fall 2018 fees in one of two ways: opt-in or opt-out.

By opting-in, students will be reassigned for the academic year to space in an off-campus apartment complex. Those who choose this option will receive 50 percent of their fall 2018 rent.

Those who opt-out will be released from their contract with University Housing for the 2018-2019 academic year. They will receive a full refund of their fall rent.

To learn more about these options, go here.

"Last night I had to sleep on my couch in my living room just because it got so bad in my room," Thomas Norton, a UT senior, told WVLT News.

Jerek Franklin said, "It's definitely crazy and it explains how me and my roommate have actually been sick the past couple weeks."

Experts said mold can create allergy-like symptoms including scratchy throat, a cough, and itchy eyes.

A company the school is working with to eradicate the mold indicated that the situation would take at least 14 weeks.

"Of course, I'm concerned about my health and just wanting to be in a room that has better air quality," Norton said.

Experts recommend cleaning any clothes that could be contaminated with detergent and hot water. All furniture and mattresses, they said should be thrown out.

On October 1, the company found mold in South Carrick Hall, but air quality testing didn't find any elevated levels of airborne mold spores.

At this time, the university is conducting air quality tests on all other residence halls.