TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona is still set to re-open late next month but will let professors and department heads have a lot of the say on how much they’ll teach in person, on-line or in a mix of the two. But as at least some students return to campus, is there anything the university can do to reduce the chance the influx of young people will help spread the virus?
For a lot of people, especially young people, social distancing went out the window when the state lifted stay at home orders in May. Younger people aged 20 to 44 quickly ballooned the count of COVID cases.
University of Arizona President Doctor Robert Robbins says about 66 hundred students have made reservations for UA dorm rooms. They’d be just part of the students coming back to campus and back to Tucson.
So how do you get those students to take the precautions required to reduce the risk of community spread?
Former Surgeon General Doctor Richard Carmona leads a lot of the planning for a safe campus reopening.
He says, “Well, clearly this is not a police issue. You know, and you don't want professors getting in arguments with students. So really, the question is how do we affect behavioral change that results in decreased transmissibility and (better) health.
Doctor Carmona says UA’s School of Public Health uses students as ambassadors to teach awareness for healthy habits and they can influence their peers.
UA’s President says person to person influence has worked to improve health but in this case it has to work fast.
He says, “We've been, you know, trying to change the culture-- seat belt wearing---not smoking in public places, not smoking at all. HIV AIDS, you know, changing behavior. And we're asked to do this in a compressed time frame.“
But Doctor Robbins says he’s confident the university and the students can make the changes they need to continue their education at University of Arizona.