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Coronavirus in Tucson: In-person classes at UA to end early next semester
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Coronavirus in Tucson: In-person classes at UA to end early next semester

From the June's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Bars, gyms face shutdowns; Tucsonans worried telemedicine might disappear series
University of Arizona

A livestream at 10 a.m. on Thursday will provide an update on the reentry plan for University of Arizona students. School President Robert Robbins is scheduled to be on the livestream.

Under a new plan for the fall semester, University of Arizona students will be on campus for in-person classes for most of the semester, but they will take their final exams from home.

UA officials “considered many early opening and closing formats and settled on adopting an end to in-person classes following the Thanksgiving break,” UA President Robert C. Robbins wrote in an email on Monday to the campus community.

“The final eight days of instruction, as well as final exams and assessments, will all be delivered in online or other remote modes to allow students to remain at home until the start of the Spring semester if they choose to do so, thus reducing travel and in-person interactions,” Robbins wrote.

The university’s public affairs office did not respond to inquiries from the Star about details of the plan, such as why it was chosen instead of other options or how it would affect students and faculty.

Joseph Matheson, a 27-year-old graduate student in the UA’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, said the plan was a “good idea” because it will cut down on air travel.

Under the plan, students “won’t fly home for Thanksgiving break, catch a bunch of stuff, then fly back,” Matheson said.

However, the plan won’t cut down on the risk of infection during in-person classes before Thanksgiving, he noted.

Ian Wilson, a 35-year-old immigration adviser who helps prospective UA employees from all over the world with visas and other immigration paperwork, said the plan for the fall semester likely won’t affect him much.

Although some UA staff members are in a more difficult situation, “for my specific job, it’s been pretty easy,” he said.

He has been working from home since March. Most of the prospective faculty and researchers he advises are in other countries.

“They don’t know if I’m in the office or not,” Wilson said.

For Jashon Butler, a 19-year-old pre-business student entering his junior year, the main focus should be student safety.

“I’m cool with whatever, as long as I don’t get sick,” Butler said.

As for faculty, they were given four options for teaching in the fall, ranging from in-person classes to completely online classes, said Celeste González de Bustamante, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and a member of the Coalition for Academic Justice.

In terms of the plan announced on Monday for the fall semester, faculty members have been left largely in the dark, she said.

Contact reporter Curt Prendergast at 573-4224 or or on Twitter @CurtTucsonStar

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