TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins announced Thursday students will be back for in-person classes starting fall 2020.
“Clearly, there are risks and it’ll look a lot different. We’ll all be wearing face masks,” Robbins said.
The university transitioned to online learning in March and canceled its commencement schedule for May, settling for a virtual one instead.
Robbins said a comprehensive plan for just how classes will resume in the fall, while keeping faculty, staff and students safe, is still being laid out. Thursday, he touted ideas like halving class sizes, specifying dorms for quarantine and even plexiglass shields for instructors.
“We’ll have to give them guidance about what we think the risks are,” he said in a news conference.
The university recently announced plans to furlough employees and give pay cuts due to a shortfall in cash from fewer tuition payments. However, with classes back on in the fall, that plan could change.
“If we get students coming back, paying tuition, that gives us revenue to be able to run the university. e would decrease the furlough plan,” Robbins said. “There’s a financial consequence if we don’t.”
Robbins said safety for those on campus is the top priority, but without students back on campus, especially out-of-state students who pay more in tuition, he said people could lose their jobs. One of the main reasons the university felt comfortable opening back up is because of the testing it will able to do, including the antibody testing that started Thursday.
The university is testing 3,000 healthcare workers and first responders as well as 1,500 members of the general public. Administration also has plans to test all students and staff at the university. The first round of testing started with Robbins himself.
However, even with the large testing capability of the University, many fall traditions may not go on—including sports.
“I don’t see it happening,” Robbins said about large sporting events packed with fans.
University officials said decisions from the PAC-12 and NCAA are still being made when it comes to sports, but Thursday Robbins guessed January 2021 was looking most promising for sports to return.
The university said they are still honoring all athletic and academic scholarships for the fall.