TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama unveiled today its guiding plan to return to full campus operations this fall.
The UA plan, which is governed by the UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan released earlier this week, paves the way for the University to resume its fundamental mission of teaching, research and service through a careful and measured reopening this fall.
The campus will again welcome in-person instruction and on-campus residents in August with public health policies that mitigate risk to students and employees while safeguarding the vulnerable members of our community to the spread of coronavirus. Details are included in the draft report.
“During this time, The University of Alabama’s indispensable mission is clear as our graduates are on the front lines caring for the sick and responding to the pandemic. They are the teachers, engineers, IT specialists and other professionals playing key roles in keeping society moving,” said UA President Stuart Bell. “It is essential the University return to a fully engaged campus with a plan that keeps the health and safety of our students and employees at the forefront.”
The plan was drafted by a Presidential Advisory Committee alongside multiple campus working groups coordinating with The University of Alabama System Task Force and adhering to cornerstone objectives set by UA System Chancellor Finis St. John..
“This report is a draft, which is both a statement of fact and a statement of purpose,” Bell said. “We will be nimble. We will adjust. We will learn.”
Five fundamental principles guide the plan:
- UA’s mission and value of the UA experience must continue
- Risks can be mitigated, not eliminated
- Protect the campus community and focus on safeguarding the vulnerable
- Support the campus community to achieve its highest level
- Take action to mitigate risks
Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 19 with heightened protections in place for employees and students.
Returning employees will maintain distancing and staggered schedules, in accordance with guidance, and with appropriate personal protective equipment. Some employees may continue to work remotely.
Returning students will encounter academic and physical adjustments designed to preserve distancing and limit spread. For example, residence hall move-in will be staggered more than usual; classroom use will be designed to limit numbers and spread; and changes in dining and events will be planned.
Face coverings will be required when physical distancing is not possible, which includes classrooms, labs, communal office space and on-campus gatherings where distancing is difficult. Face coverings are encouraged, but not required, in residence hall rooms, enclosed offices, enclosed study spaces, outdoor settings where distancing is achieved and University Recreation facilities.
In accordance with UA System cornerstones, students and employees will be tested for re-entry, if available, and there will be periodic testing to detect trends and outbreaks along with testing for those who need it. UA System campuses will conduct contact tracing to stop spread and notify individuals who have been in close contact with someone with a verified positive test.
Anyone who tests positive, shows symptoms or has been in close contact with someone with a positive test will be subject to isolation and quarantine procedures.
UA System efforts include the Stay Safe Together platform. It will include a mandatory Healthcheck feature where those coming to campus can routinely assess their symptoms, a voluntary exposure notification app that alerts users when they have come in close contact with individuals who tested positive and an event passport that uses Healthcheck information to facilitate attendance.
Returning employees and students will be required to take part in education and training sessions to help prevent the spread and impact of COVID-19.
The outline of the full plan along with other public health information can be found at healthinfo.ua.edu.
Further information on the UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan may be found at http://uasystem.edu/news/2020/02/ua-system-covid-19-updates.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.