“We are closely monitoring our data on a daily basis and will continue to adjust operations as the situation warrants,” UA System Chancellor Finis St. John said in a statement accompanying the release of the figures. He said testing for the virus was a “key pillar” of the university’s health and safety plan.
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St. John said that every student at all three campuses has the option to switch to fully online teaching at any time, stay on campus, or return home to continue their classes.
The university has not announced official fall enrollment numbers. Kellee Reinhart, a spokesperson for the university system, said the enrollment would be over 30,000, which equates to reported infections in about 3.3% of all students.
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The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases on campus has prompted city and university officials to act to try to limit student gatherings and off-campus socialization.
Last week, the university announced a 14-day moratorium on all in-person student events outside of classroom instruction. Social gatherings are prohibited on and off campus and common areas of dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses are closed, under the new guidelines. Visitors are not allowed in dormitories or sorority and fraternity houses.
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On Monday, the mayor of Tuscaloosa ordered the bars to close for the next two weeks. Maddox said an uncontrolled spread of the virus threatened both the health system and the local economy if students were sent home during the semester for distance learning.
“The truth is that the fall in Tuscaloosa is seriously threatened,” Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said earlier this week.
The university system said in a press release that because it takes several days after exposure for an individual to test positive, the benefits of the bar closure measure and other compliance strategies “will not be reflected in the test data for several days. ”
St. John thanked Maddox for taking this step.
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“We remain concerned that off-campus transmission is our greatest risk, which is why we have asked Mayor Maddox to consider this action. We thank him for making this difficult decision to protect our University community and Tuscaloosa. ”
The Tuscaloosa campus accounted for the bulk of student cases in the three-campus university system. As of August 19, there have been 10 student cases at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and 10 student cases at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
While most people who contract the coronavirus recover after suffering from mild to moderate symptoms, it can be fatal for older patients and those with other health conditions.
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