Tempe's campus was only about half full, as students returned for the fall semester

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Thousands of students in Tempe returned to classes at ASU on Thursday. But this year, it's a very different experience because of the pandemic.

The university is the first Arizona university to be going back to in-person classes, with more than 125,000 students enrolled this fall. Even so, there weren’t a whole lot of people on campus, because many classes are being held virtually.

College life amid COVID-19 worries includes face coverings, sanitizing stations and, here at ASU, far fewer students attending classes in-person. School officials tell us that this fall, 52,000 students opted for virtual classes, a little less than half of the student population. 

“I feel like I’m just floating around waiting for something to change I guess,” said student Katie Jones.

Jones was only on campus for an hour on Thursday. And though she’s a music major, the majority of her classes are not being held in person. "Basically we are doing things online that we can do, which is mainly recording ourselves in our house, which basically takes the music out of the music,” said Jones.

Jones said she’s still struggling with not being able to perform in person. "What I enjoy is sitting with other people and like, I can’t describe it. It's like a feeling you get collaborating with other people,” said Jones.

Tempe hospital prepared for possible influx of COVID patients as ASU starts classes

The university just announced it will also start conducting random COVID-19 testing. Students and employees will be notified by ASU Health Services if they’re selected. ASU also created its own COVID-19 tests, available to faculty, staff and students free of charge.

Here are some of the other safety measures that will be in place on campus:

  • When on campus, staff and students will be required to wear a face mask while inside the buildings.
  • Classrooms will be cleaned daily and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned often.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing supplies will be in every classroom. 

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