Arizona Universities monitoring COVID-19 cases but continuing to move forward with plans to offer in-person classes


Octavio Ruiz Cervera (Flickr)

Arizona State University

Ivana Venema-Nunez, Reporter

All three major Universities in Arizona have announced plans to reopen their campuses for in-person courses for the fall semester, even amid rising coronavirus cases.

All three presidents of Arizona’s major universities, ASU, U of A, and NAU expressed that even with the guidelines in place, that if the number of cases of COVID-19 worsens they would be prepared to switch classes to online, also called distance learning, in a call radio interview on June 26 with Phoenix Business RadioX.

ASU President Michael Crow said that managing the pandemic will be key in what the coming months look like.

“The three common sense things that people aren’t doing enough of:  wearing your mask, staying socially distant and hyper cleaning your hands in particular,” Crow said. “If you do those three things you have some chance of knocking this thing down just from those three things alone.”

According to the State Press, Crow said the Universities will be spending the next few weeks monitoring the spread of the virus and the effectiveness of preventative measures.

In the interview, Crow was critical of scientific “ignorance”, but added the silver lining of the pandemic is that it will hopefully diminish the anti-science mentality.

“This is a big moment for the reduction in the ignorance index of our population,” Crow said. “Our population now hopefully will be less ignorant about the importance of science and the basing of decisions on scientific understanding, rather than on the fantasy that viruses don’t actually move around between people, rather than on just the complete total fantasies that people live under.”

ASU, UA and NAU will offer in-person and online courses for fall semester 2020. The in-person classes will follow CDC guidelines where face coverings are required for students and instructors, disinfectant or “kits” are provided if students do not have disinfectants and physical distancing will be among the changes on campus.

At ASU, instructions for class setup will be relayed to students by their individual professors prior to the start of the semester, according to The State Press

UA President Robert Robbins said that if UA had to reopen now, they wouldn’t, according to the State Press.

“If we brought back students … and it caused our hospitals to be overrun, that’s the point where we can’t go and we’re teetering on that,” Robbins said on the radio program Friday. 

UA strategy is to allow students to continue their semester at home following the Thanksgiving break and all finals review and testing will be online format, according to their re-entry guidelines website.

NAU announced an early start date on Aug 12 to finish the semester by Thanksgiving, according to their website informing students on returning to campus.

According to the flexible stand on in-person classes that all three presidents have publicly taken, the coming weeks will tell a lot about their commitment to the safety of not only students, but also the community at large.