MEMPHIS, Tennessee — This time of year is exciting for incoming freshmen and returning University of Memphis Tigers, but the pandemic is changing how classes will be held and how on campus living will operate.
U of M classes begin August 17. Although learning will be held mostly virtually for at least the first month, Monday was the first move-in day for students staying on campus.
“I’m doing what I can do to keep myself safe I can’t speak for anybody else,” said University of Memphis student Arielle Hardaway.
It lasts through Saturday, August 15, and is by appointment only.
“I’m not too worried if everyone follows the rules,” said freshman James Turburgh.
“We can stretch out those numbers each and every day to ensure that we can have social distancing and a lack of crowds that would support those safety measures,” said Dean of Students Dr. Justin Lawhead.
Lawhead said the university is opening a free testing center for students, faculty and staff and shared that the decision to make dormitories available was partly based on student need.
Dorms will operate at around 80% capacity.
“COVID presents immense opportunities to make difficult decisions,” said the dean. “We really felt based off what we knew about our students in the spring, and what they need in the fall, it was best to open up our halls.”
The university will also provide a quarantine facility on campus.
“If the student does test positive then we will ask that student to be in that facility for the 14 day period post test results,” said Lawhead.
Contact tracing is conducted with the help of other departments. Lawhead said the facility can hold about 80 students.
“If we exceed the capacity of our quarantine facility then we’ll have to evaluate what we need to do next.”
Meanwhile some students hope online classes won’t be permanent.
“I love the university,” said freshman Monica Carreon. “I’m a little disappointed that you know that we don’t get to have physical class for a month. But hopefully that’ll change soon if everybody stays safe.
President M. David Rudd announced the school will reassess the possibility of having some on-ground and hybrid courses in early September. They will be voluntary.