University of Memphis previews plans to safely reopen for fall semester

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s becoming more clear about what returning to campus this fall will look like for students at the University of Memphis.

The school says there will be testing for COVID-19.

Testing has been a major issue at college campuses, as educators realize they must have something in place at this critical time.

Kiki Savely, an upcoming U of M senior, said her last year of college is still full of questions.

“It’s kind of really nerve-racking,” Savely said. “I want to try and hurry up and finish, but at the same time, it’s like, am I gonna fall behind because of changes that are gonna happen?”

The U of M still has a lot to iron out about the fall semester, but the dean of students said when students, staff and faculty return, they will  have access to COVID tests.

“It’s like anything else with COVID, it’s a lot of work, and it’s a pretty significant outlay, but we want to keep safety in mind with our students, with this institution in the community, so we just have to go ahead and lay out what that framework looks like,” dean of students Justin Lawhead said.

The U of M is partnering with University of Tennessee Health Science Center to provide COVID tests to students and staff who want it.

“But we want to offer enough testing when people are back on campus that we can reduce risk mitigation and spread,” Lawhead said.

They are still working out how often the test will be done and where on campus, but UTHSC will come to the U of M to administer the test.

UTHSC has been at the forefront of community testing, administering the COVID tests at Tiger Lane and other locations across the city.

The U of M tests will be similar.

“This was just an opportunity where Dr. (M. David) Rudd and I looked for every opportunity to get a win-win, and I think you are going to see more and more of these,” UTHSC Chancellor Steve Schwab said.

The test will be free to students.

“I think it makes sense to, but then again, are you gonna consistently test people because once you first test them, and they go out, is it gonna do any good?” Savely said. “Because people are gonna consistently be around other people, so how do you regulate it?”

The U of M hopes this move speaks volumes about the urgency of keeping everyone safe.

“It’s just really valuable, and I think it’s gives students in this community some reassurance during uncertain times that we are considering safety our number one priority when we reopen the institution,” Lawhead said.

The plans, including where on the U of M campus the test will take place, should be finalized in a few weeks and in place for the start of school in about a month.

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