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UA Planning A Return To In-Person For Spring Graduation, Fall Classes

Encouraged by the low level of COVID-19 transmission on the University of Arizona campus, school officials announced Monday plans to hold most fall semester classes face to face, as well in-person graduation ceremonies this spring to honor the class of 2021 graduates.

The Tucson-based institution is encouraged to take these next steps because over the last month, the campus has had a COVID positivity rate of less than 1%, said University President Robert Robbins at a Monday press conference. 

"We believe that by the fall, there will be continued flattening of the curve," he said. "Moreover, we think that the majority of our faculty, staff and students will have been vaccinated. So we think it'll be safe to move forward with classes in the fall.” 

The university will continuing offering flex in-person, live online and iCourse options for students who don't feel comfortable returning to the classroom just yet.

Graduation Ceremonies

The university also announced Monday plans to hold plans in-person graduation ceremonies this spring. But instead of holding a large, universitywide commencement, the university is planning a week of smaller ceremonies of about 1,000 students per event. These are planned for May 11-18. 

“This past year has obviously been very, very challenging and I know it’s had a significant impact on the senior year of this graduating class," Robbins said. "We’re all looking forward to coming together in a different but memorable way, to celebrate the academic achievements of the class of 2021." 

Currently, the university is planning to limit these events to students only, but will live stream and record them to allow families and friends to participate remotely. 

Attendance will be optional. 

In addition, Robbins said the university is also hoping to hold a ceremony for the class of 2020 which could not have an in-person commencement due to COVID. 

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