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How will ASU handle COVID-19 cases on campus?

Posted at 6:00 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 00:11:58-04

As universities across the state are canceling or delaying in-person classes due to outbreaks, Arizona State University had its first day of in-person classes Thursday.

The university will not report positive COVID-19 cases on campus. Instead, it will use a dashboard similar to the one the Arizona Department of Health Servicesuses, where you can see cases by zip codes.

If a student tests positive, they will be required to isolate. The university has "isolation spaces" on and off-campus, but university leaders wouldn't share where they are or how many isolation rooms are available. They said they'd make sure students have access to food delivery and medical care.

"We have a team of professionals from health services and student services that would have responsibility for engaging with sick individuals and checking in on them," said Katie Paquet, the vice president of ASU's Media Relations & Strategic Communications.

Universities across the country have had to backtrack and switch to only online learning after outbreaks in the community and campus. Many others have delayed in-person classes due to rising cases.

Governor Doug Ducey on Thursday said he was concerned about large gatherings and the possible spread of the virus, but he said university leaders were providing good options for students to do online and in-person learning.

"I give them a lot of credit to try to have the safest, most successful, highly valuable educational experience this year," said Gov. Ducey.

ASU right now feels good about Arizona case numbers, but if cases rise, they too may pivot to only online classes.

"There's a lot of variables that will play into that decision. One will be what's happening, obviously, in the ASU community. The other will be what's happening in the community at large. Are there numbers that are going up in terms of statewide cases and community spread," explained Paquet.

ASU is providing free tests for all students and staff, but tests are not required. The university will randomly pick seven percent of the student and employee population to get tested at least once a week.

"We feel like that will give us a good indicator of what's happening," said Paquet.

Most classes this fall have the "ASU Sync" option, which allows students to use Zoom to watch lectures live. ASU leaders said if they do have to switch to online classes, students should be able to stay on track.