TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Arizona State University president Michael Crow says there are currently 161 students and staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Tempe's ASU campus was only about half full on the first day of the fall semester, since many students are taking classes online.
ASU started classes last Thursday, welcoming more than 127,500 students. Some are going to in-person classes; many others are all online.
Crow says that since August 1, ASU has collected test results from 32,729 students and employees. "Currently, ASU has 161 known positive cases within our community," he said.
"It is our expectation that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon and that we must find a way to operate the university in a way that accounts for the ongoing presence of the virus," Crow says. "That is why we have invented testing technology, built health check apps, and established extensive protocols to help manage the virus in our community."
Crow says one of those protocols is the university's testing strategy, what he calls a, "rigorous ongoing testing protocol among students and employees." ASU designed and deployed an FDA-approved rapid saliva-based PCR test. It gives accurate test results in 24-48 hours.
"Because we know that the age demographic of our students means that they are almost always asymptomatic, we knew that ongoing testing needed to be a part of our management strategy to be able to truly understand what is happening with the virus within the ASU community," Crow says.
Approximately 20 percent of ASU students live in residence halls. ASU required proof of a negative test before students moved into their dorms. Testing blitzes are also taking place across the campuses.
Crow says testing is available daily for any employee, student or affiliate who needs a test. The school announced last week that it will require ongoing testing of a percentage of students, employees, and affiliates coming to campus.
"As was expected, and continues to be expected, testing will yield results that require members of the ASU community to self-isolate," says Crow. "We are prepared for this. Since January of 2020, ASU has been managing COVID-19 cases on and off our campuses. The university has protocols in place to manage students who test positive or may have been exposed to someone who is positive."
Crow says COVID management will require everyone to make changes and adjustments on a daily basis. On Tuesday, he clarified some of the university's policies:
- Students engaged – whether hosting or attending - in social gatherings on or off campus that do not adhere to public health protocols will be subject to suspension.
- Face coverings have been required in all ASU buildings. They have also been required in outdoor spaces when social distancing hasn’t been possible. Effective immediately, face coverings are required at all times in all ASU outdoor spaces (except when eating).
- We have a no-visitor policy in our residence halls – this includes students who live in other residence halls. Students who violate the no visitor policy will be subject to suspension and evicted from university housing.
- All students and employees must comply with our Community of Care guidelines to be on campus.
Despite warnings about the health risks of large gatherings, Tempe police said they responded to a number of reports of large parties over the weekend, with some of them being student-related.
"COVID-19 is here and will be here for the foreseeable future so everyone needs to take personal responsibility for their actions and behavior," says Crow. "We need everyone to follow all public health protocols: wear a mask, practice physical distancing, complete your daily health check, stay home when you are sick, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. That is the only way that we will be able to effectively manage COVID-19."