Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Not So Fast: University of Arizona Delays Staged Reopening Plan

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2020 at 11:13 AM

The University of Arizona administration announced they will delay their staged reopening plan just one day after the fall semester began on Aug. 24.

In an Aug. 25 email to faculty, students and staff, UA Provost Liesl Folks said the administration decided to continue Stage 1 of the reopening (essential in-person classes only) during the second week of instruction, which begins Monday, Aug. 31.

Stage 2 was originally set to begin on Aug. 31 and would have allowed small classes to resume in person, bringing another 9,000 people to campus. But Folks said they’ve decided to hold off on Stage 2 for the time being, after consulting with local public health officials.

“Based on the test data and discussions with our campus community, we have decided to continue in Stage 1 during Week 2,” Folks said in her letter. “While nearly all the data we have today shows improving trends for limiting the spread of the coronavirus in Arizona, we feel that we should continue in Phase 1 to allow more time for public health data to be collected and analyzed before we move to instruction to Stage 2: Essential In-Person / Outdoor / Small In-Person courses.”

Out of more than 9,000 antigen tests performed in the university community between July 31 and Aug. 25, the UA has uncovered 37 positive COVID-19 cases. On Aug. 25 alone, 342 antigen tests were conducted and six positive COVID-19 results were identified.

The university is using far more antigen tests—which are less expensive and produce rapid results—than traditional PCR tests, which can take 48 hours or longer to produce results. There has been controversy over the effectiveness of antigen testing. During the same time period, only 37 PCR tests were performed and reported no positive COVID-19 results.

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