TEMPE, Ariz. - Two major schools in Arizona will move classes to online following students' return from spring break.
Arizona State University
The decision was announced by University President Michael Crow on the ASU Office of the President website.
"Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at ASU at this time, we know that many members of the ASU community have been traveling this week during spring break to parts of the country and world where there may be community spread of COVID-19," a portion of the statement reads.
According to the statement, the transition of in-person classes to online instruction will continue for two weeks, starting on March 16. Officials will then make an assessment. Faculty and students will be provided with instructions on how to transition to online instruction.
Meanwhile, the university will remain open, and all public events will continue unless otherwise announced.
"We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution," a portion of the statement reads.
According to ASU officials, there are over 111,000 people enrolled at ASU in 2018, the latest year with figures available. On ASU's Tempe campus alone, there are over 51,000 students.
For weeks, students at ASU campuses have been aware of the coronavirus, and taking precautions.
"I just like started sanitizing my hands more than I usually do a day, like five times a day, wiping off the desks before you use it," said Jasmine Perez. "It's good that they're taking precautions before anything else gets worse."
"I'm, like, realizing the severity of the coronavirus, and basically just trying to make sure I can take every precaution I can to make sure i don't get it," said Emily Ngo. "Just try to contain it as much as we can, and really not panic about the coronavirus."
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona said it will delay the start of classes after coming back from spring break and transition to online-based classes beginning March 18.
"The University of Arizona’s top priority is the health and safety of our students, our employees and our community. At this time, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Tucson is low, and there are no confirmed cases on any domestic University of Arizona campus," said university president Robert C. Robbins, M.D.
He also added, "There is no doubt these policies will disrupt and inconvenience our campus community. However, I strongly believe these short-term disruptions will greatly reduce the risk of significant long-term negative consequences."
No Indication of Other School Closures in Arizona
At this point, all other schools in Arizona will remain open.
Arizona education officials have sent a letter to public schools, which reads, in part, "At this time, school closures are not recommended by the Arizona Department of Health Services or any county Department of Public Health."
The state's Superintendent for Public Instruction says it will be up to health departments on the state and county level to determine if school closures are necessary. Schools, however, are urged to use prevention measures and pre-plan for a closure.
Ultimately, the decision depends on detection.
Meanwhile, parents in metro Phoenix are not worried about sending their little ones to school in the midst of the pandemic.
"I'm not super concerned about it, but I know a lot of people are," said Brandon Wagner.
"I don't really know much about it, but I'm not gonna freak out about it," said another parent.
"It's not that pressing, but if it increases, yeah, we'd probably be interested in keeping the kids home," said Jess Dunbar.
ASU COVID-19 Page
Coronavirus (COVID-19) - How it spreads, symptoms, prevention, treatment, FAQ
Arizona COVID-19 Response - Public resources, FAQ, webinars
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.