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PUSHBACK: Hundreds of UA faculty, staff sign letter opposing re-entry plan

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TUCSON - As of Friday night, the University of Arizona associate professor, Leila Hudson, is one almost 1,300 faculty and staff members who signed a letter opposing the university’s re-entry plan. 

“It seems unfathomable that we should reopen and bring tens of thousands of students back on campus with disease rates as they are,” Hudson said.

Hudson will teach her two classes including an undergraduate lecture-style course this fall over Zoom. 

“It’s not ideal,” she said. “It’s not where we wish we were, but it’s much better than exposing everyone in the community to elevated levels of risk.”

The latest campus re-entry plan unveiled Thursday would bring back students and staff in phases over several weeks.

The administration said about 5,000 students will start in-person learning on the first day of classes, August 24.

14,000 will be on campus the next week while 50 percent of all fall classes are expected to have an in-person component by just after Labor Day. 
On Thursday, UA President Robert Robbins acknowledged getting the letter.

“I hear you,” Robbins said. “I think the concerns about the most marginalized students, faculty and staff were in our plan. We are trying to provide the maximum protection we can for everyone.”

UA Journalism professor Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante fears this is the wrong move. 

“Bringing 20,000 students on campus, that’s half the student body in three weeks, we could see a really, really harmful situation, a public health disaster perhaps,” Bustamante said. “The president himself has said this is a life or death situation, if this is a life or death situation, would you want to put public health first as a priority.“ 

On Monday, the faculty senate will introduce a resolution to call on the administration to publicly outline clear public health metrics on how to re-open the university in stages amid the pandemic.

Eric Fink

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