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University of Arizona plans for guests in stands during smaller commencements
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University of Arizona plans for guests in stands during smaller commencements

University of Arizona campus

Between March 27 and April 5, the UA administered 9,337 tests with 25 positive cases for a total positivity rate of 0.3%.

The University of Arizona is setting the stage for guests to attend the school’s in-person commencement ceremonies next month, officials said Tuesday.

Up to four guests per student will be allowed to attend the events, which will be separated by college instead of one large event in Arizona Stadium. The 16 commencements will occur between May 11 and May 18.

Guests at commencements will not be tested but will complete a Wildcat Wellcheck, the school’s daily text-based coronavirus screening tool. The administration believes the smaller outside events will allow for proper social distancing.

The administration is asking guests to do all they can to be vaccinated before they arrive at the school.

The University of Arizona Women's Basketball team ran through their opponents in the Pac-12 and straight into the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Video by Rick Wiley / Arizona Daily star

Students graduating in May should check emails to find their RSVP link for their ceremony. Students will decide if they’ll be celebrating with the in-person event or during the livestream as well as how many guests will be attending.

More commencement information can be found at

“If public health conditions do change, we will modify the ceremony plans as needed to minimize the risk for graduates, guests, our staff, faculty and people in the community. This includes revoking the guest policy, or moving to a fully virtual experience if necessary,” President Robert C. Robbins said during a university news conference Tuesday.

So far, virus levels have remained low enough for the campus to enter stage three allowing in-person classes up to 100 students to resume.

Between March 27 and April 5, the UA administered 9,337 tests with 25 positive cases for a total positivity rate of 0.3%.

The UA is even incentivizing the vaccine for students with a $5 reward for being fully immunized, needing only to upload their vaccination record at The system, UA said, is HIPAA compliant.

Students who’ve received vaccinations will also have their Wildcat OneStop marked with a green “VX” showing they’ve been fully vaccinated and are now exempt from testing requirements.

“This is essentially a vaccine passport. You show this if you’re a student, you don’t have to test and for upcoming events, we’re going to be testing students and faculty members to go to commencement. If you’ve got that green check with VX, you’re good to go,” Robbins said.

Between Jan. 15 and April 5, the UA vaccine site has distributed 133,551 vaccines to the community.

“We need volunteers to come out and help us, especially in nonmedical roles. Scribes, making sure people are welcome and hydrated and getting food and keeping the traffic flowing properly so that everyone stays safe,” Robbins said.

Volunteers can sign up at and find the “vaccine opportunities” tab.

“While this positive low positivity rate is an encouraging sign for the campus community. We are seeing reasons for concern in the broader community,” said Robbins, “and our wastewater experts have reported a higher concentration of COVID-19 in wastewater countywide.”

Still, Arizona remains 45th nationally in seven-day averages with nine new cases per 100,000 people. Michigan is first with 67 cases, UA said.

The Rt values also increased in the last week, now standing at 1.07 compared to .77 the week prior. The 85719 ZIP code where the university is located also rose to 1.11 from .77. The Rt value measures the average number of people an infected person infects. Infections slow when the Rt is below 1.

“We’ve bumped up a little bit,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, leader of the UA’s reentry task force, when speaking about positive cases.

Carmona added that “Nevertheless, people are tired — there’s COVID exhaustion, people are getting out. They don’t want to wear they’re mask, we still have the confusion of a lot of messaging that is not supportive of the best science, and people aren’t sure.”

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1.

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Shaq is a public safety reporter and the Road Runner columnist, keeping readers up to date on transportation news. In 2017, he started as an apprentice and later worked part-time until graduating from the UA and being offered a full-time position in 2018.

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