TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona is set to open in a little over two weeks, and the University President predicts more than two hundred students will test positive for COVID 19 as soon as they arrive.
The university says it has quarantine space ready to go, and the data it’s using to track COVID cases will help develop a vaccine.
University of Arizona’s President Dr. Robert Robbins says the school is on track to open August 24th, and it’s expecting about five thousand students to check into dorms.
Dr. Robbins says, “We know that probably 200-250 are going to test positive and we're going to isolate them. They're all asymptomatic. And we're going to take them out of the population and have them isolated.”
Dr. Robbins says the University will have enough space to isolate about three hundred students. It has set aside space in three of its 23 dorms: Babcock, Coconino, and Kaibab-Huachuca. The University could book hotel space if the need exceeds that.
He says extensive testing is the key to a safe reopening with a combination of in-person and remote teaching and that U of A’s test program, particularly antibody tests UA developed, could help create coronavirus vaccines.
Dr. Robbins says, “The Vaccine companies really want to partner with us because we have this data. So I think we're, we're in active discussions with a lot of the major manufacturers of potential vaccines and we would not be in this position at the University of Arizona had our incredible faculty not done all this work.”
Some faculty members worry UA is reopening too soon to be safe. Doctor Robbins says faculty can work out alternative arrangements or if they still feel at risk they can take a leave of absence and their jobs will be held for them.
As for faculty planning to press their concerns by forming a union, Robbins says if they form a union, he’ll support it.