UArizona Mourns Student Death, Increases In-Person Classes

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The University of Arizona is mourning the death of a student killed in an on-campus shooting over the weekend.

The University of Arizona Police Department and Tucson Police Department are investigating the death of student Forrest Keys as a homicide. Keys was a sophomore majoring communication and a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

"My hope is that justice will be swift (and) we will find the perpetrators that took this beautiful, young, promising life away from our (University of Arizona) family (and) most importantly, his family, his friends," President Robert C. Robbins said Monday during the university's virtual weekly briefing.

"My hope is that as the family begins to process this, that we will be able to have some campus vigil to celebrate Forrest's life," he added.

University of Arizona Chief of Police Brian Seastone joined Monday's briefing to address the shooting, which took place at the Cherry Avenue Garage Saturday night. 

"We have an excellent team of detectives here at the U of A, but in these types of incidents we utilize all of our resources, and Tucson Police has been just amazing in their support and response to us, following up on every lead possible," Seastone said. "We encourage people that have any information to please call 88-CRIME and report that either to 88-CRIME or the Tucson Police Department or to the UAPD. We'll work tirelessly to help identify those responsible for this tragedy."

The university is in touch with the Keys family, Robbins said.

"As you can imagine, they are absolutely devastated at the loss of this incredibly beautiful young man who had an incredibly bright future ahead of him," Robbins said. "I would ask that we all band together, all support each other, and if there's anything that anyone knows about this absolutely senseless loss of life of one of our (University of Arizona) family members, please let Chief Seastone and the Tucson Police Department know about it."

Robbins encouraged members of the campus community to seek support if needed. Support for students is available through Counseling and Psych Services and the Dean of Students Office. Employee assistance counseling is available through Life & Work Connections.  

Seastone said campus police patrols will be increased in the coming days, particularly around the vaccination site on the University of Arizona Mall.

"We are indeed a family here at the U of A, and one of our family members has been tragically taken from us," Seastone said. "I want to reassure folks that campus safety and security is our No. 1 priority at the campus and has been for many, many years."

Classes of Fewer than 50 Can Now Meet In Person

The university moved into Stage 2 of its campus reentry plan Monday, allowing classes of fewer than 50 students to meet in person.

Most courses have been offered in an online format since the start of the spring semester, with the exception of essential courses such as labs and fine arts classes. The decision to allow for more in-person classes was made as COVID-19 cases continue to decline nationally and locally, and positivity rates on campus remain low.

The move to Stage 2 impacts only classes fewer than 50 students that we designated as in-person or flex in-person at the time of registration. Students unable to attend in person will have options to continue learning remotely.

The move to Stage 2 also comes with the loosening of some restrictions in residence halls. Guests will now be allowed in dorm common areas, and some building amenities that were previously off limits, such as pianos and game tables, will be accessible, said 17th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona during Monday's weekly briefing.

"Students have written expressing interest in these resources, which help to alleviate stress, and I am pleased that we are able to reinstate their use consistent with CDC guidance," said Carmona, a Distinguished Professor in the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. "All face covering and social distancing policies remain in place."

The university administered 12,860 COVID-19 tests between Feb. 15 and Feb. 20, with 18 positives – a positivity rate of 0.14%. Testing numbers are regularly updated on the university's COVID-19 website.

Meanwhile, the University of Arizona COVID-19 vaccine POD, or point of distribution, has expanded its operating hours to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Those eligible for vaccination in Arizona's Priority Phase 1B can make an appointment on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.