TUCSON, Ariz. — In-person learning at the University of Arizona is increasing this week despite COVID-19 cases in the county being on the rise. Up to 50 students are now allowed in a classroom. The university president says the decision to bring students back is connected at least in part to tuition revenue. UArizona is one of the largest employers in southern Arizona.
"We have to have students come and pay tuition, otherwise we don’t have money,” said University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins.
President Robbins says enrollment in universities dropped around the country during the pandemic. He says plans to safely re-open lead to more students choosing UArizona. They avoided the worst projections for revenue loss, but they are still down 50 million dollars compared to last year.
“There has still been a furlough program, it has still caused pain and suffering to our faculty, staff and I would say many of our students.”
Despite COVID-19 cases increasing in Pima County, the county health director says the university is doing enough to continue with Phase Two re-entry plans. Up to 50 students are now allowed in a classroom.
“Because the university has given us a seat at the table and that seat is paid attention too,” said Pima County Health Director Dr. Theresa Cullen. “I think the decisions the university has made has been consistent with our recommendations.”
UArizona is planning a testing blitz before students leave for Thanksgiving and are asking students to fill out a survey detailing their travel plans. Halloween gatherings are also a concern.
“I was disappointed to see that we had yet another over 100-person gathering over the weekend,” said President Robbins. “Next Saturday and Sunday we will be out. We will be looking for the gatherings.”
Robbins says money is a factor but promises to always err towards safety.
“If I don’t think we can do this safely we will go to losing 90 million or 100 million or 120 million dollars and we will figure out ways to make it up.”