With the new academic year slated to begin in a couple of weeks, universities across the U.S. are preparing for the fall semester in the face of a highly-contagious disease.
In the state of Arizona, all three public universities are expected to bring students back with a mix of in-person instruction and online classes, even as the state reports a rising number of deaths and confirmed coronavirus cases.
More than 170,000 have contracted COVID-19 in Arizona.
Many students are worried about coming back to school.
A group of 500 students, faculty and staff at the University of Arizona in Tucson has banded together to create the Coalition for Academic Justice (CAJUA).
Out of nearly 1,300 employees surveyed by CAJUA, more than two-thirds (67%) indicated they are uncomfortable with physically returning to class.
The university recently released a 3-stage approach to bring students, faculty and staff back to school starting August 24th.
The three stages will take place over the first three weeks of the school year.
Stage one will involve only essential in-person classes and outdoor classes. These include "laboratory classes, studios and performer courses, as well as medicine, veterinary medicine and pharmacy courses, and some specialized small-cohort courses," said Provost Liesl Folks.
Stage two includes a hybrid program with online classes and small in-person courses.
Stage three includes larger in-person classes if the previous stages are successful.
But students, faculty and staff are saying the university isn’t being transparent on the reopening processes and isn’t doing enough to ensure safety on campus.