TUCSON, AZ — Whether or not University of Arizona students will be forced to take a coronavirus test before the holidays remains up in the air following Tuesday's meeting of the Tucson City Council.
A motion to table the vote for a later date passed 5-1. The resolution would have required the university to test all students prior to travel for Thanksgiving break and after returning as part of their enrollment. The school has over 40,000 students enrolled. The resolution does not appear to impact staff members or teachers.
In a statement, Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik said he recognized the short period of time between now and Thanksgiving break would make a rule like this difficult to implement but he still believes in the resolution's importance to public health.
"Nobody disagrees with the goal," he wrote. "The challenge is in how the policy is put into effect. Let’s begin work on the mandatory testing policy together now, and implement it as soon as the details can be developed. At the very least however I believe all students should be required to test negative prior to returning to Tucson and being readmitted to classes in January."
The plan would require coordination between the city, the university and the Pima County Health Department. The university, for one, does not believe that requiring testing as a factor in enrollment is the way to go.
"Our primary goal is to minimize the impact of student travel on community spread of COVID-19," President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement Monday.
To help battle a potential uptick in cases resulting from holiday breaks, the university is ramping up its testing as Thanksgiving break approaches in late November. Testing will be done on an appointment basis starting Nov. 9; it is still free and open to walk-ins currently.
The university has also opted to cancel spring break in 2021, instead offering five "reading days" so students can get some time off. The spring semester is still due to start Jan. 13 and end on May 5.