The University of Alabama on Wednesday announced that students would not be returning to class after spring break, and commencement ceremonies for graduating seniors have been canceled.
The university’s decision to take more drastic measures came as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to rise. There were 51 confirmed cases across the state Wednesday afternoon, and public health experts believe the actual number of cases statewide is much higher.
University of Alabama President Stuart Bell’s full statement:
Dear UA students, faculty and staff,
As the COVID-19 pandemic affects our community and the world, our UA administration has been tirelessly consulting available resources and experts to make decisions that are in the best interests of the health and safety of our campus community.
Given the latest directives from federal and state officials, I have signed an Emergency Declaration for The University of Alabama, allowing our officials to take further actions to protect the campus community and limit access to campus premises during this public health crisis. This is consistent with the Governor’s announcement of updated precautionary public health guidelines, including prohibiting on-premises service at restaurants in town.
Our semester will be completed under the plan below, posted on our website at healthinfo.ua.edu and updated as additional details become available. Please understand the thoughtfulness with which this plan was developed and is now conveyed. I personally believe there is no higher calling than to be an educator, and it is a great joy of my life and of the lives of our many faculty and staff to interact with a rich and active campus life. This year, more than others, we look forward to the later return of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and supporters who make our campus community so special.
- Spring 2020 Classes. All remaining classes this semester will be taught remotely. There will be no further person-to-person or on-site instruction. Exceptions will only be made as accreditors or licensors require, and as specifically approved by the Provost. Our faculty are working hard to offer the best alternatives to our students, using the most effective tools available. Faculty, know that the administration supports you in these efforts, and assistance is provided via the Center for Instructional Technology, the Office of Information Technology and the Provost – linked at healthinfo.ua.edu. Students, know that your professors will support you through this transition.
- Students Must NOT Return to Campus from Spring Break. Residence halls and Greek residential houses are closed.Recreation facilities are also closed. Dining halls, food courts, libraries and other services will not be readily available. The availability of such services in the community is also greatly limited. Now that on-campus classes will not resume this semester, a plan will be communicated in the near future regarding residential student housing fees and meal plans.
- Short-Term Hardships Must Be Compelling and Specifically Approved in Order to Remain in Campus Housing. Students with hardships, such as homeless students or those without the ability to complete classes online from home, must apply for an exception with supporting documentation to Student Life. Short-term and limited arrangements will only be approved, under extenuating and rare circumstances, by an administrative team appointed by the Vice President for Student Life.
- Move Out Plan for On-Campus Housing. In order to provide for further social distancing, a staggered plan to retrieve your belongings from the residence halls and Greek houses is being developed and will be communicated at a later date. Students are not authorized to return to campus outside of this plan and any who show up without authorization will not be accommodated. Students needing immediate access to medicines or other critical necessities should call:
Residence halls: 205-348-6676 Greek houses: 205-348-2693
- Cancellation of Spring Commencement and other Events. Honors week, athletic activities and other events are cancelled for the remainder of the semester. On-campus Spring Commencement will not be held as scheduled, and families should not plan on traveling to campus for that event. We are actively exploring and hope to provide alternative means of recognizing the significant achievements of graduates and students earning honors, but it is too early to make those plans firm.
- Interim/Summer Education Abroad. Interim and summer education abroad classes are cancelled. Further communications to affected faculty, staff, and students will be forthcoming.
- Interim/Summer Classes. Given the current guidance, it is possible that online models of instruction will continue for all students through interim and regular summer terms. Registration for those terms may be extended.
- Further Information from ADPH. We are working closely with the UA System COVID-19 Task Force, the infectious disease specialists on our sister campuses and the Alabama Department of Public Health on all aspects of virus prevention, testing, notification and treatment. Once the health department receives notification of a positive result, the health department — or an official designee — will contact the person who tested positive and begin determining who around the person might have been exposed. ADPH gathers and provides verified tests, contacts the case, determines the contacts at risk, and notifies individuals of what to do. If an individual is determined to have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed, ADPH will contact that individual directly to discuss next steps.
Thank you for your understanding and your strict compliance with this plan. It is necessary for the health and well-being of our academic community. My best wishes are with each of you, and I know we will face this unprecedented emergency together with our ever-present resilience and uncompromising spirit as we continue our service in the highest manner.
Stuart R. Bell