UArizona Plans on Four Class Formats for Fall

students walking together wearing masks

The University of Arizona mandates face coverings in university building and outdoor spaces where 6 feet of distancing is not possible.

University of Arizona students will be offered four different class formats when the fall semester begins on Aug. 24, President Robert C. Robbins said in a weekly briefing to campus on July 16. The formats include in-person classes, live virtual classes, online courses completed on a student's own time, and a mix of in-person and virtual learning.

Robbins provided the update virtually alongside 17th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, director of the university's Campus Reentry Task Force and a professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. The task force has been meeting throughout the summer to advise university leadership on how to proceed with a return to campus in the fall.

"From the get-go, when Dr. Carmona agreed to join this effort, we've said that we will plan to come back to campus in some form," Robbins said. "We've got four different modalities that students can (use to) continue their education at the University of Arizona."

Classroom Formats

UArizona faculty members worked with their department heads, chairs or directors to decide which courses would have an in-person component. About 40% of classes will have some in-person element. Students can log into the university's online student portal, UAccess Student, to see which of the following formats their courses will have:  

  • In-person
    Students and faculty will attend classes in person, with enhanced health protections in place, including physical distancing and mandated face coverings.
  • Flex in-person
    These courses will include a mix of in-person and online elements, as determined by the instructor.
  • Live online
    In this remote learning option, students and instructors are online simultaneously. 
  • iCourses
    Students complete these courses independently through the university's D2L online learning system.

Testing on Campus

As part of the effort to bring students and employees back to campus, the university also has launched a Test, Trace and Treat strategy, which includes virus testing, antibody testing, traditional contact tracing, an exposure notification app and on-campus medical care, among other components.

The university will offer three types of testing to diagnose and track the virus:

  • Antigen testing is what will be done for students moving back to campus. The test can be quickly administered and will be used as a tool to test as many people as possible when students, faculty and staff return to campus.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, testing is the gold standard for diagnosing the presence of the virus. Results take 24 to 48 hours. The university will generally use this test for individuals showing symptoms of the virus.
  • Antibody testing indicates whether a person has had an immune response to the virus, due to a previous infection. A UArizon-developed test has demonstrated 99.4% specificity for COVID-19, which means the chance of a false positive is 1 in 3.5 million.

UArizona employees are encouraged by Human Resources to do a self-assessment and to initiate discussions with their supervisors regarding returning to campus. Supervisors are encouraged to consider remote work and continue remote work if it meets business needs. Supervisors and their leadership can evaluate the needs of the unit and, in some instances, may determine a need for in-person work.

Additional risk mitigation measures in place on campus include:

  • Face coverings are required inside all UArizona buildings, including hallways, public spaces, restrooms, classrooms and common areas, with the exception of private offices, workspaces and formal meeting areas where continuous physical distancing of at least 6 feet can be maintained.
  • Face coverings are required while in UArizona outdoor spaces where continuous physical distancing of at least 6 feet is difficult or impossible to maintain.
  • Public health campaigns will continue to promote good health behaviors, including frequent handwashing, physical distancing, wearing face coverings and limiting social interactions. Student ambassadors from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, the student-led University Emergency Medical Services and other programs will lead efforts to educate, inform and encourage students and their peers to follow guidelines.
  • Enhanced campuswide cleaning protocols.


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