April 30, 2020 / Modified apr 30, 2020 6:16 p.m.

UA announces plans to hold in-person classes in the fall

President Robert Robbins says the transition "won't be easy."

University of Arizona students, who've been studying online since the coronavirus pandemic began, will return to campus for the fall semester.

At a media event Thursday morning, UA President Robert Robbins announced the university will reopen for in-person classes starting in late August.

"It will not be easy and it will not be without a 100% commitment on all the Wildcat family, but it will be well worth the effort," Robbins said.

While most students and instructors will be back on campus, Robbins says the place will not look the same.

"We'll all be wearing face masks. We'll have social distancing. The classes, we're discussing the potential of doing half classes," he said.

Some professors may teach remotely to avoid contact with students, and large gatherings, including football games, are off the calendar for the time being.

"We will honor all local, state and federal protective measures that apply, and, of course, there are many factors that remain beyond our control. However, we are tackling what is within our control to ensure our students have the opportunity for a full on-campus experience," Robbins is quoted as saying in a Thursday release.

Robbins made the announcement at an event where he gave a blood sample for an antibody test. It marked the first day of an antibody testing effort by the UA and the state, and part of that plan includes making tests available to the campus community, which the president has said will help inform people's decisions to return to school and work by identifying some who have had the disease, "potentially inferring immunity."

Robbins said experts assume the presence of antibodies likely confers immunity for some amount of time based on knowledge of other coronaviruses. He has acknowledged that it is not yet known if the presence of antibodies guarantees immunity and, if so, for how long.

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