University of Arizona starts another school year with nearly 9,000 first-year students

University of Arizona faculty discusses the school's largest freshmen class and how they're preparing for a possible monkeypox outbreak
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 10:35 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The back-to-school season isn’t done yet! The University of Arizona starts another school year today, welcoming its largest class in school history.

As students start their college journey, the university is also preparing for several health threats including COVID-19 and monkeypox.

College campuses across the nation are bracing for a possible monkeypox outbreak although at this point it’s unclear how the college social scene and living dynamics might spread the virus.

“We’re absolutely expecting it to be found in our population. It’s all over the country at this point. We have a very, very tight partnership with Pima County and their Department of Public Health. We are going to stay very tightly tied to Pima as we work through the monkeypox concerns,” Senior VP and Provost Liesl Folks said.

The university says monkeypox testing is available at Campus Health but at this point, vaccines are not being given out on campus due to the limited supply. A university spokesperson says it will connect students to the Pima County Health Department if they want to get a shot.

So far this year, the Arizona State Health Department reports 186 monkeypox cases statewide.

“We’ve got a big education campaign launching with our students as they come back to campus so they know exactly what to look for, they know exactly what to think about and it’s going to be a bit of a wait and see and watch because we don’t know exactly what will happen, but we’re hyper vigilant,” Folks added.

In a briefing last week, President Dr. Robert Robbins talked about monkeypox not just being limited to one group.

“It is possible to contract this virus through other forms of physical contact. Similarly, people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages can contract monkeypox,” Dr. Robbins said.

He also talked about monkeypox spreading through “everyday activities such as sharing utensils, linens and being in close proximity to respiratory droplets” and stressed the importance of good hygiene.