Class of COVID-19: UA Students Conflicted On Campus Return

As the school year draws near, many questions are still in the air about the University of Arizona’s campus re-entry plans. Logistics have already changed multiple times, but the UA remains firm in their intent to reopen the campus to in-person activity in just a few weeks. The Weekly’s intrepid team of summer interns have reached out to their fellow students to find out how UA’s latest class feels about returning to campus during a pandemic.

Lam Nguyen came to the U.S. during high school as an international student from Vietnam. In pursuit of studying optical sciences and engineering, he decided to attend the University of Arizona. This upcoming fall semester will be his junior year, and despite concerns of the campus reopening, Nguyen remains hopeful.

“It would be risky but definitely doable,” he said. “I think the school will take a lot of safety measures, of course, to put the students first.”

Nguyen noted the challenges students face when the school transitioned courses online in March.

“Our health was affected a lot,” Nguyen said. “You went walking miles and miles every day at school to sitting at home in front of a computer.”

For him, the biggest challenge was the cancellation of lab classes.

“It’s definitely better for engineers and science students to be able to go into the lab. To have an in-person experience instead of trying to look online,” Nguyen said.

At the moment, he's living in Tucson for the summer away from his parents.

“My parents are currently in Vietnam and the country is doing really well with the whole COVID situation,” Nguyen said. “I am not as worried for them than I am worried about the situation in this country right now.”

However, Nguyen says he is still managing social distancing and only going out for essential travel. He also says that he is looking forward to the new school year.

Adela Granados is a first-generation college student majoring in creative writing. Since she lost her job at a campus grocery store thanks to the pandemic, Granados has tried to keep herself busy with keeping in shape and volunteering in a Korean language study camp, which is also her minor. She is worried about returning back to campus in the fall for her junior year.

“I find it very stupid to be reopening in the fall when this whole pandemic hasn’t blown over yet,” Granados said. “I feel like we are a little too lax in what we should be doing to prevent it. The minute that we are allowing small businesses to reopen again, everyone sees this as a green light to pursue their lives like normal, which is very not conducive to what we are trying to do.”

Granados is OK with shops and restaurants reopening in order to stay in business, she thinks it's still important to be careful. She suggests the university to have a trial period before fully reopening the campus and provide resources for the students.

“A test run wouldn’t hurt,” Granados said. “I find that we can never be too careful… The UA should provide preventive measures like gloves or masks ready on hand for those who don’t have them.”

Granados is keeping an open mind as the university reveals more of its plans, but she's ready to get back to the classroom.

“I am very, very cooped up,” Granados said. “I am very much an introvert, but it’s getting to me too.”

Interviews conducted by Mekayla Phan. More student perspectives to come as the school year draws closer.