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UArizona plans to start fall semester with 5,000 students on campus

(University of Arizona Photo)

PHOENIX – The University of Arizona revealed new details Thursday of its plan to ramp up in-person classes after instruction starts in less than a month.

The plan calls for the fall semester starting with about 5,000 students on the Tucson campus and expanding to 25,000-30,000 after Labor Day.

“This all depends on the public health conditions and whether students, faculty and staff follow good public health measures to minimize transmission of this virus,” school President Robert Robbins said during an online briefing.

If conditions change or too many people fail to comply with health protocols, “We will shut this down,” he said.

Nobody will be required to attend in-person classes.

“I want to emphasize that we aren’t forcing anyone to come back on campus,” Robbins said. “If you choose to do it, we welcome you, and these are the guidelines that we’ll use going forward.”

It was already announced that classes would start Aug. 24 with four formats offered: in-person, “flex” in-person (combining online and in-person), live online and “iCourses” students can complete online at their own pace.

In June, Robbins expressed concern that a statewide surge in coronavirus cases could derail efforts to open up the campus as planned, but for now he’s satisfied with how conditions have improved.

The first week of on-campus instruction will be limited to courses such as research labs, medical courses, and fine arts and performing arts studios.

Other classes will start out online at the same time.

In-person and flex classes with no more than 30 people will be able to move on campus in the second week, with about 14,000 students expected.

Larger in-person and flex classes will be able to use the campus starting Sept. 8.

About 50% of all courses will have an in-person component, according to the plan.

The 25,000-30,000 maximum figure represents less than half the usual on-campus population.

The plan includes robust COVID-19 testing and tracing programs as well as enhanced cleaning protocols and a face mask mandate when social distancing is not possible both indoors and outdoors.

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