Rhodes plans to open for spring semester

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 11, 2020 11:59 AM CT | Published: September 11, 2020 11:57 AM CT

Rhodes College, which hoped to be able to offer freshmen a chance to be on campus this fall, on Friday announced the entire campus will reopen for the spring semester in January.

In a letter to freshmen Friday, Rhodes president Marjorie Hass said public health conditions in the city “do not support a robust campus experience this fall.”

<strong>Marjorie Hass</strong>

Marjorie Hass

While she noted case numbers and hospitalizations are down, “the test positivity rate is still above 10% and has been for several weeks. 

“At this level, health experts tell us we must assume we would have campus outbreaks,” she said.

She also said college officials do not want to bring freshmen on campus only to have them stuck in their room for days or weeks at a time.

Rhodes College to continue remote learning for fall

“Our conversations this week with the Shelby County Health Department raised concerns about the likelihood of widespread isolation and quarantine, even if campus cases remained low,” Hass said, noting that other urban national liberal arts campuses have decided to close after local authorities ordered entire dorms to be in isolation, even when case numbers were low.

Rhodes’ plan to create a campus bubble by requiring students to remain on campus at all times, Hass said, “appears increasingly unrealistic” after conversations with students and families and observing what is happening on other campuses. 

“Recent guidance from the CDC and the federal government indicates that students should not return home if outbreaks occur on campus. This means that our ability to limit and manage outbreaks is compromised,” she said.

The college is preparing for an on-campus spring, starting in January, with assistance from Baptist Memorial Health Care, which will be in charge of testing and symptom monitoring.

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Rhodes College Marjorie Hass
Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts

Longtime journalist Jane Roberts is a Minnesotan by birth and a Memphian by choice. She's lived and reported in the city more than two decades. She covers healthcare and higher education for The Daily Memphian.


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