TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona is on track to reopen August 24th. But with COVID-19 surging among young people, the university is depending on students acting responsibly to avoid spreading the virus.
University of Arizona President Doctor Robert Robbins says, “There are no risk free options in return to our campus.”
But Doctor Robbins says the University can open safely giving students options that include variations of in-person and virtual instruction.
He’s depending on strong science, strong testing, and personal responsibility from students, but when the state eased COVID restrictions, some young people went back to being social and gave up on distancing. People aged 20 to 44 became the biggest group of COVID positives.
Doctor Robbins and former U.S. Surgeon General Doctor Richard Carmona say they hope education and peer pressure will keep young people responsible. Doctor Robbins has seen dangerous gatherings at other universities.
“And there have been major outbreaks. Well that's not surprising to me. I hope it's a wake up call to our students not to engage in this type of selfish reckless behavior. It’s bad for yourself, it’s not good for your own health. But more importantly, I think it endangers others.”
He says the University can suspend students, or organizations that raise the risk through large gatherings, and in an extreme case could return UA to virtual instruction only.
But he and Doctor Carmona say the University does not have that leverage over what students do off-campus.
Doctor Carmona says, “We will continually remind our students, staff, and faculty to exhibit those best practices, unfortunately, off-campus where we don't have that situational awareness, it's an honor system, and we all have to hope that nobody chooses to breach their promise to us, which is to be part of why you have a campus and come to school work or play here that you need to follow these directions so we can all be healthy.”