UA President Stresses Importance Of COVID-19 Safety Practices On First Day Of Fall Semester

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Monday, August 23, 2021 - 12:25pm
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Monday marks the first day of the fall semester at the University of Arizona. The university is welcoming more than 8,700 incoming first-year students, the largest first-year class in UA's history. 

During a Monday press conference, university President Robert Robbins said he expects individuals will wear masks in indoor areas where they are required. Those areas will be designated by signage displayed throughout the campus.

While an executive order and new state law restrict the university’s ability from requiring regular COVID-19 testing, Robbins urges students and employees to get tested weekly if not more regardless of their vaccination status.

“As a reminder, the university is offering free COVID-19 tests for all students and employees, for free," he said. 

And while the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it has fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, this doesn’t mean Arizona’s public colleges and universities such as the UA may be requiring the vaccine anytime soon. That’s because an executive order and state law prevent them from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for students. 

Given this, Robbins said it’s unlikely he will require the Pfizer vaccine. 

“Given where we are politically in the state, I think that’s a heavy lift to get mandated vaccines," he said. 

But Robbins urges students and employees to get vaccinated voluntarily. The university is offering incentives to students and employees who are fully vaccinated and share proof of vaccination with the university. Those include parking permits for employees and tuition and book scholarships for students. 

To date, 48% of students enrolled in fall semester classes on the UA's main campus have submitted their vaccination documents, Robbins said, adding that he thinks the percentage of vaccinated UA students is likely much higher. 

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