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Frequently Asked Questions

University of Arizona Health Sciences Virtual Town Hall


Posted: May 7, 2020

Below are frequently asked questions from the UArizona Health Sciences virtual town hall held on April 24. Please note that there were several specific questions as well as other general questions for which there are no answers available at this time.

We encourage you to regularly consult the following central University resources for the most up-to-date information:

Don’t forget that you can share your insights with the Financial Taskforce.


Please note that these responses are subject to change as University leadership continues to assess the financial impact of the pandemic.

How will the Furlough and Pay Reduction Program affect positions that are partially or fully funded through external grants, contracts or other sponsored projects?

Anyone whose position is 100% grant-funded, contract-funded or otherwise fully supported by external funding will not be required to participate in the Furlough and Pay Reduction Program. All employees funded from accounts outside of grants, contracts and other sources of external funding will participate in the program. Please visit Grant-Funded Researchers: Furlough Program for more information and the Researcher Furlough Calculator.

How will the Furlough and Pay Reduction Program impact University of Arizona faculty whose positions are primarily or partly funded by Banner Health?

We are working closely with the Deans in the Colleges of Medicine – Tucson and Phoenix, as well as the Colleges of Pharmacy, Nursing and Public Health on a solution that respects the partnership with Banner Health, clinical operations, and serving patients and students. More information will be communicated and available on the Furlough and Pay Reduction Program FAQs website as decisions are made. 

For faculty on nine-month contracts, is there guidance on when furloughs should be taken?

Faculty will need to work with their department heads to review service, research and teaching responsibilities. Decisions should be made that are both feasible for the faculty member and the department. Please see Furlough and Pay Reduction Program Revised Plan for more information.

For more information about furlough days and pay reduction, including academic employees on nine-month contracts, please see Furlough and Pay Reduction Program Revised Plan.

Will there be any incentives for early retirement?

This option is being evaluated. Please see Furlough and Pay Reduction Program FAQs for more information.

Can employees apply for unemployment during furlough?

For information on eligibility for unemployment benefits, please visit Arizona Department of Economic Security.

How will the furloughs affect paid parental leave and the ability to take paid sick/vacation time during Family and Medical Leave (FML)?

There is no impact on your required furlough if you are on unpaid FML. If you choose, you may designate one or more leave days as unpaid furlough days to run concurrently with the FML. Please see Furlough and Pay Reduction Program FAQs for more information.

If we continue to accrue vacation and sick time, will the carryover amount be waived for 2020?

No decision has been made about waving the carryover amount, though vacation and sick time have not been impacted.

    Is the University considering any reduction or pause on contributions to retirement accounts or other benefits?

    No. The University is not able to negotiate the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) rate, and Arizona Revised Statute §15-1628 requires that the University and the employee each contribute 7% of earnings to the Optional Retirement Plan. Because your contribution is based on a percentage of your salary, the contribution will go down proportionally with your salary. Please see Furlough and Pay Reduction Program FAQs for more information.

    Will students, faculty and staff in Phoenix have access to the COVID-19 antibody testing?

    The Phoenix campus community will have access to the antibody testing just as the Tucson campus community will. More information will be communicated when testing expands broadly to students, staff and faculty.

    What is the sensitivity and specificity of the COVID-19 antibody test?

    The UArizona Health Sciences test is an adaptation of the well-regarded Mt. Sinai Hospital of New York test and was developed in the laboratories of Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD, and Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD. The Health Sciences test was created using the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein, the unique part of this virus that sets it apart from other coronaviruses.

    The Food and Drug Administration recently announced rigorous precision standards to ensure that available antibody tests are accurate. The FDA’s minimum requirements are 95% specificity and 90% sensitivity. Internal validation studies of the Health Sciences test submitted to the FDA showed a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 95.61%, meaning the Health Sciences test is well above the required thresholds. Please visit COVID-19 Antibody Testing for more information.