The University of Tennessee will require face masks indoors this fall semester.
Masks will be required in classrooms, laboratories, other places of instruction, and any indoor events that students are required to attend, UT said in a press release Monday.
The university may be the first school in the area to announce a mask requirement as the delta variant of the new coronavirus spreads in Tennessee and across the United States. Masks are not currently required in Oak Ridge Schools.
In the press release, UT System President Randy Boyd urged students, faculty, and staff members to talk with their families and healthcare providers about the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
“We are excited to have our campus communities together this fall and are planning full campus experiences across the UT System,” Boyd said in the press release. “With the delta variant spreading in our state and communities, we want to help ensure the safest return possible. The best way to take care of each other as we return to campus is to first take care of ourselves by getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The press release said specific plans and guidelines will be announced at each campus location in the coming days, and mask requirements will be continuously re-evaluated.
“Students are encouraged to take precautions to manage their own health,” the release said.
Campus locations include UT Knoxville, UT Institute of Agriculture, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin, UT Southern, and the UT Health Science Center.
COVID-19 cases in Anderson County and Tennessee hit a low in late June and early July, but since then cases and hospitalizations have steadily climbed. In Tennessee, cases have risen from a few hundred per day to more than 2,000 per day, while current hospitalizations have more than quadrupled from a few hundred to close to 1,000.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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