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President Crow talks COVID-19, semester plans during student forum

Crow announced ASU received grant to make quick, at-home COVID-19 tests and answered questions on fall break and systemic racism


President Michael Crow motioning towards his phone as he talks about the new COVID testing plan at an ASU student forum over Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020.

President Michael Crow addressed questions on an extended Thanksgiving break, a new COVID-19 test and the University's plan to convene an Advisory Council on African American Affairs among other initiatives in the first student forum of the semester on Thursday.

Students across the four ASU campuses sent questions to Crow about current changes due to COVID-19 and the University's announcement of a new 25 step action plan to better support the ASU community's BIPOC. 

READ MORE: ASU announces plans to support BIPOC students, faculty

One student pressed Crow on the University's plan for the future of the semester, regarding its decision to cancel fall break in the effort to limit student travel and the spread of COVID-19.

"In the name of virus spread prevention, wouldn't it make sense to also cancel classes between Thanksgiving and winter break?" the student said.

Universities across the nation have announced they would try to get students home — and stay home — by Thanksgiving break to mitigate travel and the anticipated second wave of the pandemic.

The University is hesitant but does not disagree to shortening the fall semester, Crow said, adding that a cut back to fall break depends on the number of positive cases in campus housing and what the national situation looks like later in the fall. 

"We don't think we have to make that call quite yet," Crow said. "If it turns out that in fact lots of virus got delivered in one way or another, then almost certainly we will end the semester at the Thanksgiving break."

Crow also announced the University was granted $7 million to build a point-of-care test. Point-of-care tests can be performed outside of a lab at the convenience of the patient, which in this case is a "microfluidic" device that Crow said would be half the size of an iPhone and would deliver COVID-19 test results in two minutes. 

According to Crow, students could spit into the device, and it would almost immediately give COVID-19 test results. 

"It's a computer in a laboratory on a chip," Crow said, but did not announce an estimation of when the device would be ready for students and faculty. 

Another concern brought up by the student body was the University's "list of 25 actions to support Black students, faculty and staff" following a protest calling to defund the ASU police and build a Multicultural Center on campus. 

READ MORE: 'Michael Crow has got to go': Students chant as they protest injustice at ASU

According to Crow, the list of actions was constructed by listening to student government leaders, the coalitions and the protesters that cried the need for change. 

"We've seen the kinds of things that the leaders of those have been talking about," Crow said. "We've listened to every kernel of input that we could." 

Among the action items committed to by Crow was the establishment of an Advisory Council on African American Affairs, which he said would comprise students, faculty and staff to ensure the success of the Black community at ASU. 

One person asked how Black students could apply to get on board with the Advisory Council. Crow said students can email him if they are interested in being on council.

As stated in his list to address social injustice, Crow reiterated that the University was open to all suggestions made by the community.

Crow also said the University would ask existing coalitions, councils and faculty groups to become members of the council as well.

"We'll get it organized and up and running as soon as possible," Crow said. "We're going to be drawing as many voices as we can bring together." 

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