TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - University of Arizona students are no longer under a voluntary stay-at-home order. It expired on Tuesday, September 29th, but officials say the two-week recommendation had its intended effect.
While university officials are celebrating the success of students in helping them get to this point, they aren’t letting their guard down.
As for students, this is an opportunity to prove they can be trusted with fewer restrictions.
“It’s up to the students if they want the numbers to decline or not,” said Garrett Madeya, a member of the student union.
“I’m glad the stay-at-home order is being lifted because it shows some progress,” said Vanessa Garcia, another student.
The progress is in the numbers. The COVID-19 Dashboard shows a spike in cases on September 16th, followed by a steady decline ever since faculty started cracking down.
“We asked for this voluntary quarantine,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, a distinguished professor of public health. “We told the students to stay in their homes and dormitories and to do digital education. That seems to have worked.”
All the while, the threat of implementing a legally binding quarantine if the students didn’t take the recommendation seriously remained.
“The normal behaviors of college students are to socialize,” Dr. Carmona said.
Dr. Carmona, who is also leading the re-entry task force, says several students have faced disciplinary action, including suspensions and expulsions for things like hosting large parties or not wearing a mask.
“Having them reprimanded in some way is good because it shows there are going to be consequences,” said Madeya.
The university’s relationships with off-campus housing has allow officials to track student behavior. Dr. Carmona says the number of large gatherings is going down, but he is still concerned about mask compliance.
The Pima County Health Department (PCHD) released the following statement:
We are eagerly working with our University of Arizona partners to closely monitor the situation on and around campus as the stay at home recommendation ends. We are hopeful that this decline in cases will give us the opportunity to safely move forward. Despite the end of this specific recommendation, we encourage students to take precautions to prevent another spike by:
· Wearing a mask in public spaces and in common areas of their dorms, apartment complexes, etc.
· Avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people
· Practicing social distancing
· Washing their hands or using hand sanitizer often
· Getting a flu shot
If the numbers continue to drop, Dr. Carmona says the university will loosen restrictions further. If the cases spike, students can expect another stay-at-home requirement (or something like it).
Of the total 2,314 coronavirus cases on campus, Dr. Carmona says many of the students were asymptomatic, but one student was hospitalized with the virus.