- May 22nd, 2020
- in Messages from the President
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:
As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I want to update everyone on the status of the University’s ongoing efforts related to COVID-19. To begin, my appreciation for and pride in the hundreds of faculty and staff here on our campus who are working around the clock to address all aspects of this global pandemic cannot be overstated. And, as I have mentioned in earlier messages, many of our students, through their various outreach programs, have been helping communities across America as well as here in Tuscaloosa. My thanks to each of you for your work.
In line with Chancellor Finis St. John’s creation of the UA System Task Force and to further the implementation of his cornerstone objectives, I formed the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Return to Full Operations this past April. This group is now finalizing a comprehensive set of plans to prepare a safe, healthy campus environment for Fall 2020. The committee and its multiple working groups are coordinating their efforts, tapping into the world-class expertise we have on our campus and within our System as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). The goal is to formulate robust, nimble strategies to address all the important aspects of preparing our campus for a return to full operations. As always, the health and safety of our students and employees are paramount in our decision making to return to a fully engaged campus.
The committee is analyzing dozens of elements of returning to in-person instruction and regular business operations, including academic quality, campus life, research, athletics, health and safety, HR issues, and more. We are exploring the most effective ways to implement a number of protocols that will promote the health, safety, success and privacy of each individual member of the campus community. These will include enhanced cleanings, the appropriate use of protective equipment, and potential modification of traditional classroom settings, among others. In addition, with guidance from ADPH and the UA System Task Force, we are planning to implement COVID-19 testing and symptom-tracking protocols. The effectiveness of our plans will be enhanced through the campus community’s use of a COVID-19 contact-tracing tool that the UA System Task Force is developing in partnership with Apple, Google, and ADPH. This voluntary, opt-in tracing tool will allow us to harness technology—without sacrificing the privacy of the individuals who use it—to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that we can all be safer together.
Now, more than ever before, The University of Alabama is truly Tide Together by strength, determination, and a desire to protect all members of our campus community. We will continue to update you as these plans evolve and solidify, but, for the latest updates, please visit the healthinfo.ua.edu website.
Stuart R. Bell