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ASU staff, students protest return to school

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(TEMPE, Ariz.) — Even as students have begun moving into housing at one of the biggest colleges in the United States, debate rages over if they should even be there in the first place.

With the fall term scheduled to begin Aug. 20, Arizona State University is facing backlash from students and staff for insisting on opening in-person amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Five hundred staff and students signed a letter to ASU’s president with concerns over COVID-19 safety on campus.

“Communication regarding the reasoning for ASU’s return to in-person instruction at this time and regarding what will happen when an eventual outbreak occurs on campus has been lacking,” the letter explained.

The school announced in May that it would be opening with in-person classes in spite of a rise in coronavirus cases in the state and advice from a state official for schools to be careful about reopening.
“Arizona is not currently in place to resume traditional in-person instruction or hybrid learning models. Every indicator says that there is high community spread across the state,” Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said in an Aug. 4 statement.

The school president and provost are working to address the concerns expressed in the letter, an ASU spokesperson told ABC News in a statement, saying the letter included “very legitimate ideas, questions, requests and concerns.”

“ASU will continue to provide a university-wide framework for managing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19, which to the maximum extent possible empowers individual members of the ASU community to live, work, teach, research, and serve the people of Arizona in whatever ways best address the needs of each individual member of the ASU community,” the statement continued.

Some of ASU’s plans for when students and staff return to campus for in-person learning include in-person courses with less than 100 students, staggered in-person learning, mandatory face-coverings in all ASU buildings and no visitors in ASU resident halls, according to the school’s website.

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