UArizona Announces On Ramp to In-Person Classes Beginning Aug. 24

a statue of two wildcats playing while wearing cloth face masks

The Wildcat Family statue on the University of Arizona Mall was outfitted with masks amid the pandemic.

Chris Richards/University of Arizona

Editor's note: For the latest updates, tune in to the next weekly briefing at 10 a.m. (PT) on Aug. 6,

The return to in-person classes at the University of Arizona includes an on-ramp approach over the first two weeks of the fall semester, which begins on Aug. 24, President Robert C. Robbins said in today's briefing on the campus reentry plan.

The university will offer four class formats in the fall: in-person courses with enhanced health protections in place, flex in-person courses that include a mix of in-person and online elements, live online courses in which students and instructors are online simultaneously, and iCourses, which students complete at their own pace through the university's D2L online learning system.

For the first week of classes, only a select few courses, such as research labs, medical courses, and fine arts and performing arts studios will be held on person. About 5,000 students are expected to resume in-person learning at that time. All other courses will begin online on Aug. 24.

During the second week, in-person and flex in-person classes of up to 30 people will begin meeting on campus, while larger classes will continue online. About 14,000 people are expected to be on campus in week two.

Beginning Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day, larger in-person and flex-in person courses will resume on campus. About 50% of all fall courses will have some in-person component. At this point, between 25,000 and 30,000 people are expected to be on campus, which is less than half the number on campus during a regular semester, Robbins said.

Campus services, including dining services and outdoor recreation programs, will be available starting on the first day of classes on Aug. 24, and University Libraries will be open.

The staged approach to in-person instruction will not affect dorm move-in, which will take place as planned. All students planning to live on campus will be tested for COVID-19 with a rapid antigen test and must get a negative result before they are permitted to move in. Those who test positive will be moved into an isolation dorm for 10 days, and their regular dorm room will be held for them, Robbins said.

Robbins emphasized that university leaders will continue to monitor public health conditions on and off campus and make adjustments to the reentry plan as necessary.

"This all depends on the public health conditions and whether students, faculty and staff follow good public health measures to minimize transmission of this virus," Robbins said. "We have a plan, and we have confidence that our students faculty and staff will carry it out, but if we see noncompliance or if the public health conditions require (it) we will shut this down (and return to fully online instruction)."

He also stressed that students and employees will not be required to return to campus if they are uncomfortable doing so. 

"I want to emphasize that we aren't forcing anyone to come back on campus. If you choose to do it, we welcome you, and these are the guidelines that we'll use going forward," he said.

Details of the reentry plan are available on the university's COVID-19 website, and the latest updates will continue to be posted there.

Testing and Safety Protocols

The university has implemented a number of safety measures on campus to help mitigate risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, including enhanced cleaning protocols and a face covering mandate in university buildings and outdoor spaces where six feet of physical distancing is difficult to maintain.

There is also a robust Test, Trace and Treat effort underway that includes diagnostic and antibody testing for students and employees, traditional contact tracing, an exposure notification app, and on-campus medical care, among other components.

The university offers three types of tests. Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, diagnostic tests are the gold standard for diagnosing the presence of the virus, and the university will generally use this test for individuals showing symptoms. Results take 24 to 48 hours. Antigen tests are diagnostic tests that can be quickly administered and deliver results in one to two hours. This will be used as a tool to test as many people as possible when students, faculty and staff return to campus. Antibody testing indicates whether a person has had an immune response to the virus due to a previous infection.

Robbins encouraged everyone to follow best practices to help make a return to campus as successful as possible.

"By following good public health practices reducing the number of in-person interactions each day, wearing face coverings, physically distancing and following good personal  hygiene and disinfectant routines – this can help us return to campus safely," he said.

He added: "Whether you're here in person or learning distantly, remotely, we support your decision and we will get through this together."


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