TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The University of Arizona started the school year exactly four weeks ago. Since then cases have climbed and the school has taken drastic steps to slow the spread, but is it enough?
Arizona’s School Authority visited the Tucson campus where we found college in the COVID era is much quieter with less energy and fewer people milling around.
“It’s been different than what I expected,” said freshman Jolani Trotman.
“It’s weird, but I didn’t go to college when there wasn’t a pandemic so I didn’t have anything to base it off of,” freshman Henri Vergara added.
Now, many students like Trotman and Vergara order their meals on an app and pick them up in special lockers inside the Student Union. There’s also a robotic salad machine for those wanting a healthier meal. It’s a stark contrast from the typical bustling Student Union of the past.
“You can still walk around campus and go into food courts to get food, obviously it would be a lot different without COVID, but there is still accessible things like this,” Trotman said.
But, the university doesn't want students spending too much time mingling.
A week ago, UArizona asked those living on or near campus to quarantine for two weeks to help slow the spread.
“We are living what keeps me up at night,” President Dr. Robert Robbins said.
Robbins sat down with Arizona’s Family recently where he talked about his biggest concerns for the rest of the semester.
“In class and on the campus, we have you in our buildings, you have to wear a face covering but if you go right across the street to your high rise you can go to the pool and have a party, our rules don’t apply there,” Robbins said.
When asked at what point he would put the brakes on in-person learning and move online, Robbins responded by saying, “we watch the numbers everyday and so far we have been able to manage with our capacity for isolation, what we are trying to do is find the cases that are asymptotic and positive.”
Right now, the university says it has four dorms up and running for students to isolate who test positive. At last check, the university says 400 students are in isolation with a capacity for 600.
“We still have capacity and it’s a ten-day isolation so there are people who have already moved out and opened up new beds for isolation,” Robbins said.
Currently, 5,000 students meet for what the university calls "essential in-person" classes. The university also set up tents around campus so professors can teach outside.
Four weeks into the school year, Trotman says he’d rather be in Wildcat Country than home even if all his classes are online.
“I wanted to get away from home and have that experience and I didn’t want to have to wait a year to do that, and figured I might as well go and be a little extra safe and have that experience,” Trotman said.