TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona plans to re-open with full in-person classes two weeks from now, but University President Doctor Robert Robbins wishes the state law allowed him to require face masks and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Robbins is a medical doctor who imposed strict COVID-19 testing protocols during last year’s session.
Since then, an executive order from Gov. Doug Ducey and a law passed by the Arizona Legislature forbid the University from requiring masks or COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Robbins wishes he did not have to deal with that law.
“The ideal would be that we could require everyone to be vaccinated, we could require everyone to cover their face, we could require many things that other places are doing but we cannot do here, because of state law, and obviously we're going to obey the law, but we're gonna also encourage and where we can require the things that we can require such as masks,” said Robbins.
Dr. Robbins says the University will strictly enforce masks in places like medical clinics and labs where state law does allow them.
He says he had high hopes for a more normal academic year, then the fast-spreading delta variant took hold and raised case levels so high that hospital beds are becoming scarce.
Dr. Robbins hopes University students, faculty and staff will agree to vaccination, which he sees as the only likely way to suppress the spread of COVID-19 before mutations arise that escape control by current vaccines.