KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pellissippi State Community College said that masks will be required in all indoor spaces starting Monday after officials said they would reinstate the mask policy.
Officials said that the college's emergency management team used information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make the decision. Federal officials listed Knox and Blount counties as having "high" levels of community transmission, recommending people return to wearing masks in East Tennessee.
Classes will begin on Aug. 23m, and officials said the college will have masks available at each campus for students who arrive without one. They specified that face shields will not be enough according to the policy.
“We know this is frustrating and stressful and that we’re all tired of it,” said L. Anthony Wise Jr., Pellissippi's president. “There are exciting weeks ahead as we welcome faculty and students back for the fall semester, many for the first time in months. We are going to take the challenges as they come and do the best we can to set a good example for our peers and our students by providing a safe environment for teaching and learning.”
Officials said the college will re-evaluate the mask policy at the end of September. They said they will relax the requirement when the area returns to "moderate" community transmission for a period of 10 - 14 days.
By waiting until September, officials said they will be able to tell if Labor Day travel impacts local COVID-19 transmission rates.
They also urged people to get vaccinated and invited people to a walk-in "Vaccinate and Education Fair" on Aug. 30, outside on the Hardin Valley Campus. It will be held from 12 p.m. through 4 p.m.