TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Arizona State University confirms that 15 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed among the student population.
Last week, ASU announced its plans to hold online classes through the end of the spring semester due to the coronavirus threat. Due to privacy laws, officials will not disclose the locations of the students.
[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Arizona]
A university spokesperson told us that no, tuition would not be refunded because the university has continued to operate at "full capacity delivered in a different mode."
ASU president Michael Crow tweeted the announcement Monday.
University spokesperson Jay Thorne sent us the following statement:
The university can confirm that as of yesterday it had 15 confirmed cases among our student population. Due to privacy laws, we will not be disclosing the location of those individuals.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country and around the state, it is our expectation that the Arizona State University community will be among those that continues to experience positive test results.
ASU is working in close coordination with the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Maricopa County Health Department and will continue to respect personal privacy, deferring to public health agencies regarding disclosure of positive test results and related information.
On Wednesday afternoon, some families were helping students move out of the dorms. While they are not being forced to leave, the school says they are encouraging those living on campus to go if they can so they aren't in contact with so many people.
Freshman Paityn Schlosser says she was shocked when she found out about the coronavirus cases through the school newspaper, The State Press.
"Fifteen confirmed cases, yet, I heard nothing from my boss," Schlosser said. She was a desk assistant at Manzanita Hall and is constantly closely interacting with students.
The cases got the attention of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich who posted about it on Twitter.
I’m deeply concerned that 15 ASU students have/had COVID-19. Why weren’t campus facilities closed sooner? ASU needs to release more information to the public now. This is a serious public health concern. Thousands of students & staff who could have been exposed are heading home.— Mark Brnovich (@GeneralBrnovich) March 25, 2020
Arizona's Family reached out to the university, which says that if you came in contact with someone who has coronavirus, you would have already been informed. Katie Paquet, a spokesperson for ASU, responded to Brnovich's tweet with this statement:
ASU is following the guidelines of the health department and patient privacy rights to the letter of the law. The positive cases of our students both here in Arizona and out of state are all being managed in isolation, as directed by public health officials. We’re not sure what public health credentials the Attorney General has, but we have full confidence in our public health professionals and ASU’s own Health Services team. We manage many complex public health and medical issues with our 75,000 on-campus students every day and COVID-19 is no exception.
Paityn worries some students might stay on campus because they won't be getting money back for what they have spent in housing, meal plans or parking. She's from a small town outside of St. Louis and will be moving in with family friends in the Phoenix area.
"I do appreciate ASU and keeping the dorms open for those who need it, but it needs to be a necessity" Paityn said. "There are so many students that are staying here because they would rather be here than going home. St. Patrick's Day we had dozens, and dozens, and dozens of social gatherings. Although they're encouraging students to leave, there's nothing that's incentivizing us besides the fact that we'd be safer at home."
In terms of refunds, school officials say their top priority right now is the health and well-being of students. They also said "while we are not giving out refunds at this time, we will be looking into potential accommodations for services that go unused, such as meal plans."
This is a stressful time for a lot of people, and when asked, Sam Costanzo says he's happy with the school's response. He helped his daughter move out of the dorms in Tempe this week. As a long-time counselor at a Valley high school, he understands it's an overwhelming job.
"It's a huge university and the challenges that they're facing a lot of people don't know," he said. "And I think the public just sees one side of it, but they couldn't act overnight."
The school says those in the ASU community who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms are told to self-isolate for 14 days. A decision has not yet been made about commencement activities for this spring.