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UArizona counting on masks, hoping for voluntary vax

Will Professors become mask enforcers?
Posted at 7:07 PM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 22:07:39-04

TUCSON, Ariz — Even with the Pfizer COVID vaccine officially approved, the University of Arizona will not try to make it mandatory. The University President would like to require the shots, but he does not think he could make a vaccination order stick.

University President Doctor Robert Robbins is a medical doctor who says more vaccinations are the best way to beat COVID and reduce the chance of new varieties the vaccine might not counteract. But he’s facing Governors orders and state law that keep him from requiring the shots.

Doctor Robbins says even with the Pfizer Vaccine going from emergency use to full approval he can not make another run at requiring the vaccine.

“Given where we are politically in the state I think that's a heavy lift to get mandated vaccines“

The University has decided it can legally mandate masks for everyone as long as UA does not ask anyone if they’re vaccinated or not. That gets around the idea that someone might be treated differently because of vaccination status.

The University is offering incentives for vaccination. Employees can get parking permits in the garage, sports and arts tickets and memberships in the campus recreation center, Student incentives include tuition and book scholarships, campus rec passes or lunch with President Robbins.

But a mask mandate leaves some professors worried about the prospect they'll face confrontations enforcing the mask rules. Doctor Robbins says the first thing the instructor might do is offer a spare mask.

“They refuse then, then I think there are several options, which includes referring that student to the Dean of Students for some counseling. What we want to do is to have the students remain in the class because we know face to face instruction is very beneficial for a large number of people.”

Doctor Robbins says he expects case counts to rise in the first months after students return. He says the priority is to maintain in-person instruction but that requires the help of students to keep infections down.