University of Memphis to start classes with new guidelines amid surge in COVID-19 cases

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Monday, thousands of University of Memphis students will return to campus for the start of the fall semester, and things will look a little bit different this school year.

Unlike last school year, the university will be operating at 100 percent capacity. Amid the bustle of going back to school, there’s a feeling of uncertainty on campus.

“I’m a little nervous, I’m a little anxious,” said junior Leslie Webber.

“It feels like we might get shut down cause because all of the rates going back up and everything with other schools, so I’m not confident but I hope it will last,” said sophomore Katie Huffman.

New data from the health department shows that there are more than 8,200 active cases, a number the county has not seen since January. This comes a few days after a mask mandate was reinstated in Shelby County.

“COVID-19 delta variant is real,” said Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor. “It is getting younger people sick, it is getting kids sick.”

Taylor believes that this recent surge could have been avoided.

“When you see that you realize that a lot of this surge could have been prevented if we had been able to get more people vaccinated,” Taylor said.

In effort to increase vaccination rates, the university is offering vaccines on campus. Some students would like to see it become a requirement, giving the uncertainty that lies ahead.

“You should get vaccinated,” Huffman said. “It’s not gonna hurt you and it will just help you and help everybody around you.”

“I will get vaccinated, but it’s more of a pressure on me to get vaccinated because I will be attending here,” Webber said.

The university has implemented various safety measures like requiring masks and social distancing upon students’ arrival. The university is also requiring symptom monitoring and self-reporting of positive cases.

An online dashboard of all positive cases will be updated weekly. You can click here for more on the university’s COVID-19 guidelines.

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