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UA now canceling all live classes through end of semester over COVID-19

Faculty & staff express confusion over shifting announcements

University of Arizona students are being asked to not return to campus after spring break, with all courses moving online through the end of the semester as officials expand on an earlier decision to limit in-person classes over the coronavirus outbreak.

The school announced that students should stay away from campus on Friday, and then extended the cancellation of live courses through the end of the semester with a posting on the UA website on Saturday.

Numerous faculty and staff have said on social media that they have been confused by the changes in the university's approach, with many saying that they were not informed that classroom teaching will now be halted through the end of the semester.

A UA spokeswoman did not respond directly to questions about the policy shift on Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, UA President Robert Robbins said that all in-person classes were being canceled through April 6, with a message Friday that courses would be curtailed "until further notice."

"Students should not return to campus, provided they have suitable alternative living arrangements," UA President Robert Robbins said. "These students are welcome to return to campus briefly to collect belongings."

"Students who do not have a suitable alternative should return to campus," he said. "Residence halls, food service, Campus Health, libraries and computer labs are open and will remain open to support you."

UA has not provided information about whether students being ousted from their dorms will be refunded the rent they have paid. Students who need to collect belongings from their dorms will be informed how to do so "in the coming days," according to the school's website.

"Classes will commence on Wednesday, March 18, fully online," Robbins said Friday afternoon. "Details for each class will be communicated by individual faculty and instructors."

"While the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Tucson remains low and there are no confirmed cases on any domestic University of Arizona campuses, the global and national situation has continued to evolve swiftly," he said.

"No in-person classes will be held," UA spokeswoman Pam Scott confirmed Friday.

The move affects the UA's Tucson and Sierra Vista campuses, and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

Faculty and staff are being encouraged to work from home but will be permitted to be on campus.

Research operations will continue as usual, Robbins said, and all events and gatherings on campus will be canceled or rescheduled.

Robbins had announced Wednesday night that UA would delay the start of classes after spring break, and move to online courses over concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak.

"There is no doubt these policies will disrupt and inconvenience our campus community. However, I strongly believe these short-term disruptions will greatly reduce the risk of significant long-term negative consequences," he said Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a "public health emergency" prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak, allowing the state to request federal funds and deal with medical price-gouging.

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