TUCSON, Ariz. - As we close in on the Thanksgiving holiday, the University of Arizona is working to limit the chance traveling students could spread COVID or bring it back to campus. The University is planning to test more students---and it’s urging them to go home for Thanksgiving and stay home until January.
University leaders say student COVID counts are trending down, but they’re worried the change of season will bring them back up---just in time for Thanksgiving travel to help spread the virus cross-country and to student families back home.
The University is planning what it calls a pre-holiday testing blitz to identify students who may carry the virus.
University Provost Doctor Dr. Liesl Folks says, “And for that reason, we're asking everybody to test. 10 days prior to travel so that if they do test positive we don't ruin their family, full, full break plans whatever those might be.”
The University can require tests for dorm residents. It will encourage them for students who live off-campus. Students who test positive, and skip the trip home because they’re infected can stay in one of UArizona’s isolation dorms, even if they normally live off campus. The school is also encouraging students who do go home to stay home, and attend class remotely until the new session in January.
The same worries about travel and close contact have UArizona canceling Spring Break and replacing it with five individual break days spread through the Spring semester.
Tucson Council Member Steve Kozachik convinced the City Council to set a vote on a resolution asking the University to test all students as a condition of being at UA. The city can’t make that a requirement; it's simply a formal request.
University President Doctor Robert Robbins says he wants as much testing as possible, but he’s not sure he has the resources or the authority to require tests for off-campus students.
“Well, that's our aspirational goal but we're just not, we don't have the capability to do that now. And also there are always going to be exceptions to any mandatory anything.”