First, and importantly, happy Veteran’s Day to all of our service men and women. We’re grateful for your sacrifices in serving the nation.
On Tuesday, October 20th, a representative of UA President Robbins’ staff addressed the Mayor and City Council on the issue of mandatory COVID testing for UA students. At that time he stated that the Resolution I proposed requesting mandatory testing was both ‘pandering’ and ‘unconstitutional.’ The Resolution failed on a 5-1 vote.
The following Monday during his weekly press briefing, President Robbins announced that the UA “will have mandatory testing” and that he was prepared to make it a requirement “to come back to school” for the spring term for students living both on and off campus. Setting aside the curious resolution of the constitutional issue, I was pleased to hear the school had changed its position and was going to invoke precisely what the Resolution I had proposed was asking for.
This past Monday, November 9th, the President hedged, stating that the mandatory testing will only be for students who attend in-person classes. With classes limited to only those with a maximum of 50 students, the new standard will leave thousands of students living off-campus still attending the UA, but not required to present a valid COVID-19 PCR test in order to do so. That places our community at risk. COVID-19 infections are exploding throughout the nation. Public health experts predict coronavirus will continue to present significant challenges to community health, and to our health care workers when campus reopens.
During our discussion of the Resolution, the Mayor said she was handling the COVID issue in consultation with the UA. I am not a part of those conversations. And yet given the fluid nature of the positions taken by the UA on the issue of mandatory testing of all students, I would encourage all parties who are at the table to take this issue seriously, protect our community and require every student, whether they live on or off campus to present a valid COVID-19 test prior to returning to school, and to repeat that periodically throughout the semester.