TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona is planning to bring more students on campus for in-person classes. The University President says he’s planning on making that move because COVID stats are improving.
Up to now, in-person classes were only the ones where it’s just too hard to learn without a lot of hands on instruction. But now University President Doctor Robert Robbins says COVID cases are dropping to the point where he is tentatively planning to expand in-person classes as of February 22nd.
Classes would still have no more than fifty students and would have strict requirements for masks and social distancing.
Moving from what the University calls Phase One, to Phase Two would raise the number of students in face to face classes from about 3,800 to roughly 13,000.
Doctor Robbins says, “We're pretty confident that we can move forward slowly, watch the numbers, make sure in the classroom, that we keep all these mitigation efforts in place.”
Doctor Robbins sees numbers that say no one should drop their guard but he’s encouraged that Arizona’s COVID cases have cooled down from a national hot spot to tenth in the nation.
Tests positive for COVID are dropping to the point where he will require students on campus to get tested once a week instead of the two per week schedule that had been required.
The University news conference also featured a vaccine expert who talked about some of the new virus strains and whether current vaccines will protect against them. Doctor Deepta Bhattacharya says vaccines do seem to be effective against the best known variant, first identified in the UK and vaccines should be able to keep the other strains from giving you a dangerous case of COVID.
“These vaccines are still working extremely well for keeping you out of the hospital and I think that's one point that we really want to emphasize here. We may get a little too hung up on these. These percent efficacies, especially if we're talking about some pretty mild symptoms.
He says with vaccines and virus mutations over time, COVID could eventually become like many other viruses---more of a nuisance than a killer.