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ASU shortens semester, to go virtual-only after Thanksgiving

September 19, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The pandemic is prompting Arizona State University to shorten its fall semester by a week, with any instruction during the one remaining week after the Nov. 26-27 Thanksgiving break conducted virtually.

In an email citing “current health circumstances,” Provost Mark Searle also said Friday the fall commencement in December would be conducted virtually.

Under the schedule change, the fall semester will end Dec. 4, with the previously scheduled Dec. 7-12 week for final exams canceled and finals instead held the last day of class during the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4.

“All instruction after the Thanksgiving break will be remote,” Searle said.

Searle said the spring 2021 semester will have courses “in a variety of learning environments to accommodate students’ needs depending on location or circumstance as a result of COVID-19.”

State health officials on Saturday reported 610 additional COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths in Arizona, increasing the statewide totals to 213,551 cases and 5,467 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Arizona rose over the past two weeks, going from 575 new cases on Sept. 4 to 774 on Friday.

The increase in the average followed the state Department of Health Service’s recent changing of its case-counting methodology to adopt an updated national standard that newly includes “probable” results from less-accurate antigen testing.

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The counting change resulted in big bulges of additional cases Thursday and Friday as the department updated its records to include over 1,300 probable cases from September and previous months.

Meanwhile, the seven-day rolling average of daily deaths dropped during the past two weeks, going from 32 deaths on Sept. 4 to 23 deaths on Friday.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.