Two days after University of Alabama in-person classes started back on Wednesday, school president Dr. Stuart R. Bell released a letter to student body expressing disappointment concerning COVID-19 protocols not being followed.
The good news was that the positivity percentage rate for students upon re-entering campus was around one percent.
According to the Crimson White, testing on Thursday resulted in a 29 percent positivity rate.
Alabama's Vice President for Student Life, Myron Pope, also issued a statement, announcing that extra protocols and directives to be followed by students and faculty in the coming days.
The University is placing a 14-day moratorium on all in-person student events outside of the classroom. This does not include athletic activity.
Students are not allowed to have visitors enter housing and residential communities and common areas of those dorms will remain closed.
As for the Greek community, all common areas in the houses are closed, residents can only reside in their rooms, meal services will be grab-n-go only for residents and members, and no visitors can enter the house.
Off-campus gatherings are also prohibited by law enforcement and the school.
People who host these events will face heightened consequences and repeat offenders could face suspension.
Pope's statement read:
"Although we are proud and appreciative of all of you who are wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and showing respect to your fellow students, the actions of a few are jeopardizing the health and safety of our entire campus community. These behaviors are hindering our ability to continue the in-person experience this fall and the Capstone traditions we cherish.
Non-compliance with the Health and Safety Guidelines will not be tolerated. Let this serve as a call to action. We must demonstrate our commitment to each other and this great University by doing everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. The choices you make impact you, others, the community at large and our ability to remain Tide Together. The precautions we are imposing today are solely for your health and well-being. We are doing everything in our power to have a successful fall semester. We are calling on our student body to do your part each and every day – on campus and off campus."
Here is Bell's letter in its entirety:
"Dear students, faculty and staff,
The University recently shared with all of you the policies and directives that underpin our plan to return to operations this semester.
The expected rules and behaviors of all students and student organizations have been clearly defined. While we are appreciative to those who have taken these expectations seriously, I am deeply disappointed that those guidelines are not being followed by each and every member of our student body.
This afternoon the Division of Student Life will announce additional directives that are focused solely on the safety and well-being of our campus community. That information also will be shared with the parents and families of our students.
Tide Together now more than ever, we are seeing the harsh consequences at other universities which have been forced to close abruptly because safety protocols were not followed. The eyes of the nation are following us closely and I am confident we will meet and exceed our status as frontrunners.
Despite the challenges, we can measure success by many benchmarks.
- Our student re-entry testing is nearly complete and the positive rate is around 1%, far below national averages. Results will be posted at www.uasystem.edu beginning Monday afternoon on the new System-wide data dashboard and will be updated as we move into sentinel testing.
- More than 20 employees have been assigned to focus solely on exposure notifications, isolation, quarantining and sanitization protocols. More than 450 beds have been dedicated for isolation purposes. Although more than 90% of those beds are vacant, we will expand those resources as needed.
- Hundreds of hours have been invested by our Situational Response Team and the President’s Advisory Committee to develop and implement guidelines that are consistent with the UA System Task Force Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan. Their work continues 24/7.
- As an institution, we are 45,000 strong, representing every county in Alabama, every state in the nation, and most countries around the world. It is a privilege to lead you.
- Please know that I am counting on each of you not only to do your part to keep our campus safe, but to report any activities that you believe might compromise the overall health and safety of our University community. Reports can be made online or by calling 1-866-362-9476.
I look forward to your comments and suggestions, which we urge you to share at email@example.com.
Stuart R. Bell
Later in the evening on Friday, Bell published another statement explaining details surrounding the 29 percent figure that Pope had discussed in his interview with The Crimson White.
"Earlier today, our Vice President of Student Life, Myron Pope, had a conversation with student leaders," Bell's statement reads. "It is disturbing to see statements from that conversation taken out of context. The quoted positivity rate is grossly misleading as presented. The positivity rate attributed to Myron deals with a sub-group of students who identified as symptomatic or exposed to someone with COVID-19. Such samples are in no way reflective of the positivity rate of the campus community. Any attempt to compare these figures to our entry testing of more than 30,000 students is misguided. Campus-wide re-entry test results remain around 1% overall."
Bell reiterated that the 29 percent figure was not a representation of the entire student body. Rather, it is the percentage of positive tests from those students who were tested on Friday that had experienced symptoms.