University status update: UA commencement ceremonies to allow guests, slight increase in transmission


Screenshot of the University of Arizona's virtual university status update team, who met April 6 to discuss recent COVID-19 updates.

The University of Arizona’s COVID-19 virtual university status update team met on Tuesday to discuss new guest policies for graduation and updated COVID-19 data from the UA community. 

UA will continue in Phase Three of reentry this week. Classes of 100 or fewer students designated as ‘in-person’ or ‘flex in-person’ may begin meeting for in-person instruction.

President Dr. Robert C. Robbins officially announced that graduates will be permitted to bring guests to the in-person commencement ceremony this May.

“At this time, the decision has been made to allow four guests per graduate during the in-person commencement ceremony scheduled across a long time,” Robbins said. “We're spreading it out to limit the number of people from each ceremony.”


The ceremony will be held as multiple events – Robbins presented the rough estimate of 16 or 17 events – spread between the dates May 11 and May 18.

“We're excited and hopeful for this development in our plans, and I know our students and their families are going to be incredibly, incredibly excited about this,” Robbins said. “But, as always, we want to plan, pay meticulous attention to detail, to make sure it's safe for everyone.”

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UA has now administered a grand total of 133,551 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those vaccinated at the UA Point of Distribution, 22.3% self-identify as Hispanic or Latinx.

VUSU vax # 04-06

Screenshot of COVID-19 vaccine administrations from the University of Arizona's Point of Distribution. Over 130,000 people have been vaccinated since Jan. 15. 

From March 27 to April 5, UA administered 9,337 COVID-19 tests, which resulted in 25 positives – a positivity rate of 0.3%.

Despite these positive numbers, Robbins acknowledged that transmission seems to be increasing in local communities.

“While this low positivity rate is an encouraging sign for the campus community, we are seeing reasons for concern in the broader community,” Robbins said. “Our wastewater experts have reported a higher concentration of COVID-19 in wastewater countywide. So, we are going to continue to emphasize good public health practices, as we always do. The best thing we can do now is continue to mask up, stay as physically distanced as possible and get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can.”

VUSU test results 04-06

Screenshot of recent COVID-19 testing data results, which indicated a positivity rate of 0.3%.

It is also worth noting that that the COVID-19 rate of transmission has been on the rise since the beginning of March. Last week, the Rt increased to 1.11 from 0.77 the previous week in the university zip code area. The Rt on the county level increased to 1.07 from 0.77 the previous week.

VUSU Rt 04-06

Screenshot of rate of transmission values from the past week: both Pima County and the university's zip code has increased over the past week.

The Campus Area Response Team was deployed to two incidents of large gatherings last week, down from four incidents the previous week. None of these incidents was a gathering of 100 or more individuals.


Screenshot of recent Campus Area Response Team deployments, which decreased to two in the past week.

The status update team will meet again next Monday, April 12.

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