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School president says ASU’s COVID-19 strategies working but need to evolve

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)

PHOENIX – Arizona State University President Michael Crow said the school’s COVID-19 strategies have been successful to this point but will continue to evolve.

“There’s no way to wait this thing out. That’s impossible. There’s no way to hide in a cave. That’s impossible,” Crow told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday morning.

“So you just have to figure out how to adapt and adjust, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Crow said the school plans to continue with a hybrid learning mode in the spring semester, combining online and in-person instruction, but aims to increase social engagement opportunities for students, both in person and virtually.

“We’re looking to add more outdoor features, accelerate our ability to create more social gathering opportunities carefully, as well as digital social gathering opportunities,” he said.

“We’re looking to just accelerate our rate of innovation and our rate of adaptation every day.”

Crow said personal commitment and technology have allowed ASU to keep the spread of coronavirus low on campus – “we’ve got no transfer occurring between students and staff or faculty” — even as cases surge around the state.

According to ASU’s COVID-19 management website, the school had 36 known positives among 12,400 faculty and staff as of Monday and 252 among 74,500 students.

Of the student cases, 167 were off campus in metro Phoenix and 77 were isolating in Tempe campus housing. The other cases are in isolation at the Downtown Phoenix, ASU West or Polytechnic campuses.

The positivity rate for ASU diagnostic testing last week was 2.3%, well below the statewide figure of 9% as reported by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“We’re taking this approach of managing our way through COVID by using every tool imaginable. So it’s about personal responsibility. It’s about caring about other people, about doing some simple things, like wearing masks and social distancing,” he said.

“But it’s also about taking advantage of technology. Particularly our testing technology, which has allowed us to find those that are positive, help them move to not positive, help them from contaminating others.”

Crow said ASU’s methods aren’t unique and could work for businesses and K-12 schools, too.

“It’s not that tough and it’s not that difficult,” he said. “And let me say also … that it’s going to be required with or without the vaccine, because the vaccine is going to be another tool in our tool kit. But it’s not going to eliminate the virus.”

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