Sneeze Guards, Shade Tents and Testing All Part of Campus Reentry Preparations

mask-wearing student with a large cardboard box moving into the dorm

Dorm move-in began on Friday, Aug. 14. All students must test negative for COVID-19 before being permitted to move in.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

As the University of Arizona prepares for the start of classes on Monday, a number of measures have been implemented to help mitigate the risk for COVID-19.

During today's weekly briefing on the campus reentry plan – the final briefing before the semester begins – Chris Kopach, UArizona assistant vice president for Facilities Management, outlined some of the physical changes that have been made on campus in response to the pandemic.

Among the changes are:

  • The university Carpenter Shop has fabricated 1,329 sneeze guards, which have been installed across campus.
  • Thousands of touch-free paper towel dispensers and hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed across campus.
  • More than 5,000 spray bottles of disinfectant have been issued to faculty, staff and researchers. The bottles can be dropped off with Facilities Management for refills every evening.
  • A number of tents are being set up at the Student Union Memorial Center, Student Recreation Center and other locations on campus to provide shaded multipurpose outdoor areas.   
  • Signage has been posted across campus encouraging physical distancing and adherence to the university's face covering mandate and other CDC guidelines.

Kopach said the main UArizona campus has been divided into 10 zones, with Facilities Management staff dedicated to each of those areas. Additional staff are assigned to other UArizona locations throughout Tucson and statewide to make sure they have what they need.

He added that custodial staff members have undergone training on isolation procedures, and they are equipped to respond within one hour to reports of COVID-19 cases on campus to clean and disinfect the area.  

"It really takes a team to make this happen," he said.

On-Campus Testing and Exposure Notification App Now Available

Many fall courses will begin online on Monday, as the university takes a data-driven, on-ramp approach to resuming in-person instruction. However, about 5,000 students are expected to attend in-person "essential courses," such as research labs, President Robert C. Robbins said during the briefing.

For those returning to campus, getting tested and complying with public health measures, such as wearing a face covering and physically distancing, will be especially important, he said.

"At the end of the day, we can build the perfect plan, but we have to have everyone follow the rules, have respect, mask up and Bear Down," he said.

For the 5,000 students expected to live in the dorms this semester, a negative COVID-19 test result is required prior to move in. Students who test positive must isolate for a period of time, either off campus or in a designated campus isolation dorm.

The nasal-swab antigen testing began on Friday at McKale Memorial Center. Since then, 4,274 antigen tests have been administered and just nine have come back positive for COVID-19, Robbins said.

Students who live off campus are also encouraged to be tested at a separate testing site at NorthREC, the recreation and wellness center at the university's Honors Village, Robbins said. He added that updates on testing for university employees will be coming soon.

Robbins also encouraged members of the campus community to download the COVID Watch smartphone app, which officially launched this morning.

The exposure notification app allows users who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to anonymously notify others who may have been exposed. The university partnered with the nonprofit organization Covid Watch to lead efforts to customize the app, which is an integral piece of the campus Test, Trace and Treat strategy.

"Please download the app if you're a university community member," he urged. "We need participants (for it) to be effective."

For more on how the app works, see today's UArizona News story UArizona and Covid Watch Launch COVID-19 Exposure Notification App.




Resources for the Media