Administrators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say it’s not possible to remove all risk of COVID-19 but that the school has robust plans in place to keep students, teachers and staff as safe as possible. Classes there begin on Monday.
Meanwhile, four Alabama universities are already posting the numbers of COVID-19 cases on their campuses, as public health experts await to see what may come after all K-12 and colleges open.
UAB Provost Dr. Pam Benoit told reporters in a press briefing Friday that the school began gradual entry in May with clinical students and research activity, and that it went well. Other students began moving onto campus on Wednesday.
“We’ve worked constantly for months to create a comprehensive safety plan and we continue to add strategies. We realized that we can’t eliminate all risk. No one strategy can be 100 percent effective, but the combination of strategies that we’re using will significantly minimize the risk on campus,” Benoit said.
Masks and social distancing are required on campus, Benoit said, and failure to follow the rules could lead to “progressive discipline.”
Dr. Selwyn Vickers, Dean of UAB’s School of Medicine, said between 80 and 90 percent of those connected to UAB who have tested positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus from the community and not from university grounds.
Auburn University is reporting that during the week of Aug. 8-14, there were 41 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 32 of which were among students, eight among staff and one additional case classified as “other.”
At Jacksonville State University there are 44 active coronavirus cases being tracked by the school. The data doesn’t break down how many of those cases are students, faculty or staff.
As of Aug. 20, there were 10 Troy University students with confirmed COVID-19 cases — eight living off campus, one at Rushing Hall and another at a fraternity, according to the university’s data.
There have been 23 confirmed coronavirus cases among people who have been on Samford University’s campus, according to the university’s website. 16 students and seven employees there have tested positive.