University of Arizona students return to campus

The university says changes are coming to isolation dorms

Jan. 13, 2020 KOLD 6 pm Newscast - clipped version

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some students at the University of Arizona are already back on campus following winter break. Today, the university said about 25 people are currently staying in COVID-19 isolation dorms on campus.

“In the summer, there was a lot of assumptions made that students who were going to be moving into isolation are ill,” said Alex Blandeburgo, the Executive Director of Housing at the University of Arizona. “But, the reality was most of these students were asymptomatic.”

Blandeburgo says the lack of COVID-19 symptoms made students more likely to leave isolation dorms before they were given a clean bill of health.

“We have indicators that some students were leaving and we jumped on that right away.”

He says there were two other big issues; the first being that students living in isolation wanted to invite non-permitted guests into the isolation dorms, and they had trouble finding housing staff including R.A.s who wanted to work in isolation dorms.

“We’re not in a situation where we can legally prevent people from leaving,” said Blandeburgo. “We can prevent people from entering because they’re unauthorized.”

They say this prompted them to hire private outside security.

“We were at a crossroads,” said Blandeburgo. “We needed someone to be able to monitor the activity.”

The university says it thinks this semester will be different, and has found R.A.s willing to work and live in the isolation dorms.

“This one individual, he saw it an opportunity to provide a needed service,” said Blandeburgo.

The university is providing extra pay, along with training and PPE to ensure R.A.s feel protected.

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