Photo Gallery: Students 'Bear Down and Mask Up'
The University of Arizona started the fall semester on Monday with several safety precautions in place, including a robust testing program and mandated face coverings.
The university is offering four class formats this semester: in-person courses with enhanced health protections, 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.
The majority of fall classes have started in an online format, with the university taking a data-driven on-ramp approach to in-person instruction. However, about 5,000 of the university's more than 45,000 students were expected to attend in-person "essential courses," such as research labs and performing arts studios.
To help mitigate risk for students and employees on campus, the university is offering a robust COVID-19 testing program as part of its Test, Trace, Treat strategy. All students living on campus are required to test negative for COVID-19 before being permitted to move into their dorms, and students who test positive are required to quarantine for a period of time at home or in an on-campus isolation dorm. University employees and students who live off campus are also encouraged to get tested.
As of Aug. 26, the university has administered 10,126 COVID-19 nasal swab antigen tests, with 46 positive results. Testing numbers are updated daily on the university's COVID-19 website.
The university is also offering Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, tests, considered the gold standard for diagnosing the presence of the virus, as well as antibody tests, which involve a blood draw and can indicate whether a person has had an immune response to the virus due to a previous infection. The antibody test available on campus was developed by UArizona researchers.
Members of the campus community also are being encouraged to download the Covid Watch exposure notification app, which allows users who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to anonymously notify others who may have been exposed.
In addition, a number of physical changes being made on campus as well to help mitigate risk for COVID-19 exposure, including the installation of thousands of sneeze guards, hand sanitizer dispensers and touch-free paper towel dispensers.
As the semester got underway with new safety measures in place, University of Arizona photographer Chris Richards captured some of the activity on campus as students heeded the call from President Robert C. Robbins and other campus leaders to "Bear Down and mask up."