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UA Strongly Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing, Face Coverings Ahead Of Fall Semester

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins strongly emphasized the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, frequent testing and mask wearing during a Monday press conference, but fell short of requiring them in compliance with an executive order and new state law. 

“This is absolutely the key. We’re just limited by the state law that we cannot require a vaccine. It would be the best thing if we could," Robbins told reporters. 

Under an executive order and new state law, the Arizona Board of Regents, colleges and universities are prohibited from requiring testing, COVID vaccines and face masks. 

The university will obey the law and does not expect it will challenge it as some K-12 school districts are doing, Robbins said. But the university will find ways to work within the law such as offering COVID-19 vaccines and testing to students and employees, wastewater testing and improving ventilation in campus buildings. 

Other Fall Semester Plans

The university is planning to offer all campus-based courses in person when classes resume on Aug. 23.

In addition to strongly recommending masks, COVID vaccines and frequent testing, the university will stand up an isolation dorm with at least 150 beds where students who live on campus and test positive for COVID can isolate. 

The university will also bring back its COVID-19 data dashboard. 

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