KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

ASU Employee Coalition Raising COVID-19 Concerns As The Fall Semester Begins

Alexander Aviña
Alexander Aviña
Alexander Aviña, an associate professor and member of the ASU Community of Care Coalition, says faculty and staff are starting the fall semester fearful that there could COVID-19 outbreaks on campus.

Thursday marks the first day of the fall semester at Arizona State University. A coalition of university employees are worried that bringing students back to campus will result in COVID-19 outbreaks like ones happening at other college campuses who started their semester earlier this month. 

“We’re scared. We’re in fear," said Alexander Aviña, an associate professor of Latin American history and member of the ASU Community of Care Coalition. "We saw what happened at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and we fear that we may have a repeat of that here.” 

A few public universities have already walked back their plans for in-person classes for the fall semester. That includes UNC-Chapel Hill, which moved all classes online this week after numerous COVID clusters were identified among the student body. 

Earlier this month, the coalition sent  a letter to university administrators asking them to reconsider their plan for in-person classes as well as safety and transparency concerns. They received a lengthy response from university President Michael Crow, but Aviña said not all their questions were answered. 

“We haven’t been given a clear picture in terms of what COVID numbers actually look like or will look like once the university opens up," he said. 

The university is testing all students moving into residence halls and symptomatic individuals and sends the data to the state health department, said Christopher Fiscus, an ASU spokesperson. Those results are displayed on the state’s data dashboard. ASU is working on creating its own dashboard that will display similar information include ZIP code-based data of positive results from tests in ASU's labs, Fiscus said. 

The coalition has also demanded that the university grant work accommodations for all faculty, staff and graduate students who have requested them regardless of reason. 

Fiscus said about 1,500 accommodations have been made to faculty members who requested to teach remotely and avoid in-person instruction. All ADA-related requests were granted, and about 95% of other requests were granted.

"We have stressed flexibility and choice for fall 2020, both for students and for our faculty members," he said. 

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.