The University of Arizona Faculty Senate submitted a letter to President Dr. Robert C. Robbins on Friday, Aug. 6, urging the university to institute a mask mandate on campus.
The letter, submitted to Robbins at 5 p.m. on Friday, calls on him to issue a mask mandate in classes and public spaces at the UA.
“In the absence of a vaccination mandate (which we would also favor),” the senate wrote, “ a mask mandate is our best hope to limit the spread of [COVID-19], while still allowing us to move forward with in-person instruction in the upcoming Fall semester.”
The Daily Wildcat obtained an advance copy of the letter from Melanie Hingle, vice chair of the Faculty Senate and associate professor, which you can read below.
The letter cites the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, as well as the role of masks in mitigating the transmission of the virus, in support of a mask mandate.
A mask mandate at the UA would come in defiance of Arizona Revised Statute § 15-342.05, which prohibits counties, cities, towns, school district governing boards and charter school governing bodies from requiring the use of face coverings on school property, during school hours and in order to participate in in-person instruction.
However, as many K-12 students begin school this week, several school districts in Arizona have instituted mask mandates despite the prohibition. The letter from the UA Faculty Senate asked Robbins to follow suit.
“We urge you to assert the right of the University to impose conditions on in-person instruction that stand the best chance of mitigating the spread of [COVID-19]. Much as many K-12 school boards have done, you should act to ensure the safety of the university community,” the letter said.
Before the letter was submitted, Robbins sent out an email informing students, staff and faculty that there will be a University Status Update briefing on Monday, Aug. 9, at 11a.m. This will be the first status update since May 3.
“Our goal is to remain as transparent as possible with our conversations on the state of the pandemic and expected impacts on the University,” Robbins said in the email. “With that in mind, Dr. Richard Carmona and I intend to renew our University Status Update press briefings on an as-needed basis.”
The livestream of the briefing will be available to view at arizona.edu/live.
Follow Kristijan Barnjak on Twitter