Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan Summary of Plan Revisions

UPDATED – AUGUST 28, 2020

Message from Chancellor Finis St. John

Our System is extremely fortunate that some of the best doctors, scientists, and researchers in the world work on our campuses at The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and at our UAB Health System. We have drawn on that expertise to devise this comprehensive health and safety plan to make our campuses as safe as possible in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is now incumbent on all of us – students, faculty, and staff – to do our part to achieve a safe return to campus and complete a safe and successful academic year.

 

Thank you to the hundreds of dedicated professionals who have contributed to this important endeavor.

Finis St. John IV, Chancellor

The University of Alabama System

Contents

Introduction

Updated Health & Safety Requirements

  1. Training (Required for Entry)
  2. Healthcheck (Required for Entry / On-going Compliance)
  3. Testing
    • Student Entry Testing (Required for Entry)
    • Testing for Faculty/ Staff Transitioning Back to Campus (Required for Entry)
    • Student-Athletes, Athletic Coaches and Staff / Clinical Students and Instructors (Required)
    • Sentinel Testing (Voluntary for general campus population/Required for Specific Groups)*
    • Cluster Testing (Voluntary for general campus population/Required for Specific Groups)*
    • Campus Exposure Notification (Required)
    • Exposure Notification App (Voluntary)
    • Isolation and Quarantine (Required)*
    • Campus Command Centers
  4. On-campus Instruction
  5. Face Coverings
  6. Physical Distancing
  7. Student and Academic Event Limitations (Required)
    • Student Events On-and Off-campus
    • Attendance Limitations
    • Event Registration
  8. Visitor Policies
    • Visitors in On-campus Housing (Required)
    • Off-campus Visitors to Campus
  9. Compliance and Enforcement (Required)

*updated August 28, 2020

Introduction

Chancellor Finis E. St. John IV established a System-wide Task Force to respond to the SARS­CoV­2/COVID­19 (“COVID­19”) pandemic.  The goal was to make the UA System campuses the safest universities in America. Members of the UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Task Force, along with working groups on our campuses, have worked tirelessly to develop and update our plans for all UA System students, faculty, and staff.

The health and safety of our UA System campuses is our top priority.  UA System employees and students, regardless of their personal opinions, must recognize their obligation to themselves, their peers, and the surrounding community to strictly abide by all health and safety requirements. Compliance is critical to ensure a safe return and safe operations in the coming weeks.  

Failure to comply with all COVID-19 related policies and requirements will result in swift and meaningful enforcement measures.  To mitigate the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19 on our campuses, all students, faculty, and staff must strictly adhere to state and local health ordinances, and all System and campus guidelines. 

These guidelines will be continuously reviewed and updated as circumstances surrounding COVID-19 evolve.  Campus policies must remain consistent with this Plan and current health guidance. 

The existing requirements of the UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan and Return to Campus Plans are modified as set out in these revisions. All other provisions not modified by this summary remain in effect. These revisions are endorsed by the UA System’s Comprehensive Health and Safety Task Force and supported by the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees. 

Anyone concerned that a member of the UA System community is violating these health and safety requirements may report their concerns anonymously through the UA System Hotline.  The Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-866-362-9476 or visiting online. 

FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THESE DIRECTIVES WILL RESULT IN DISCIPLINARY ACTION, INCLUDING DENIED ACCESS TO CAMPUS AND SANCTIONS

Updated Health & Safety Requirements

The following provisions of the UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety plan have been revised. Mandatory requirements for UA System employees and students are identified and must be satisfied before entering campus, and to maintain the privilege of continued campus access.

Training (Required for Entry)

All UA System faculty, staff, and students must participate in an online educational module on COVID-19, its prevention, and the Guide SafeTM (formerly Stay Safe TogetherTM) platform. This training must be completed by all faculty, staff, and students before returning to a UA System campus and the System Office. Faculty, staff, and students already on campus must complete the training as directed by their Department of Human Resources or Office of Student Life.

Healthcheck (Required for Entry / On-going Compliance)

All UA System employees and students must enroll and participate in the Guide SafeTM Healthcheck seven (7) days before returning to campus.  All UA System employees and students already on campus must register upon completion of the training. Participation in Healthcheck is encouraged, but not required, for employees working remotely.

The Guide SafeTM Healthcheck and Event Passport should be used for all visitors and vendors before coming to a UA System campus or the System Office. Attendees at athletic, fine arts, and other on-campus events must present Passport clearance and their admission ticket.

Upon completion of each Healthcheck, participants will access a clearance screen through the GuideSafeTMEvent Passport function. The Event Passport must be used to facilitate access to campus and campus events.

Testing

Student Entry Testing (Required for Entry)

All students must participate in entry testing before returning to campus. Testing services will be coordinated through the Guide SafeTM platform. UA System campuses must communicate clearly and repeatedly with their students regarding mandatory testing requirements and the registration process.

  • Students Using a Private Provider or Who Have Previously Tested Positive for COVID-19: Students who elect to test with their private provider or who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the past (12) weeks should upload verifiable proof of their negative test or use their campus immunization portal. All documentation must be uploaded prior to arriving on campus. 
  • Out-of-State Students: The campuses are working with Guide SafeTM to provide out-of-state students a mail-in testing option.  Out-of-state students must test before returning to campus. Students who are unable to test through the mail-in option or their private provider may test at a local testing site in Alabama.  
  • In-State Students: In-state students who do not test with a private provider or have not previously received a positive result for COVID-19 must test at one of the thirteen (13) testing locations in Alabama before returning to campus. Guide SafeTM (formerly Stay Safe TogetherTM) will send all UA System students an email with instructions on registering for testing at a local test site. 

Testing for Faculty/ Staff Transitioning From Remote Work (Required for Entry)

UA, UAH, and System Office employees transitioning back to work from a remote status will be tested before arriving on campus or at the System Office. UAB has communicated its testing procedures to its employees who are transitioning back. Any UA System employee who has already returned to campus must be accounted for in each campus’s sentinel process. UA System Office employees located on System campuses will be tested as part of the sentinel process for the campus on which they are located.

Student-Athletes, Coaches, and Athletic Staff (Required)

UA System campuses will develop separate protocols to regularly test all students and employees participating in intercollegiate athletics. Testing protocols for these groups will be outside of sentinel testing, and must comply with all NCAA and host site requirements. At a minimum, all staff and students actively engaging in intercollegiate workouts or competitions, whether formally or informally, must be tested at least one time per week.

Sentinel Testing (Voluntary for general campus populations/Required for Specific Groups)

Weekly sentinel testing will be coordinated through Guide SafeTM and supplemented by our campuses. Sentinel testing, which will target a randomized sample of 4-5% of the general campus population (collecting no less than 2.5% of the sample), will be used to signal trends, identify outbreaks, and monitor the prevalence of COVID­19 on UA System campuses.
Sentinel testing is voluntary for most of the campus community, but is REQUIRED for students:

  • Living in on­-campus residential housing (including Greek housing)
  • Participating in intramural club sports
  • In registered student organizations that hold in-person meetings with (10) or more people.
  • Participating in clinical activities, provided that student also has or will have a presence on-campus throughout the semester

“For-Cause” Testing (Voluntary for general campus population/Required for Specific Groups)

UA System campuses will immediately respond to any suspected increase in COVID-19 exposures in a specific campus location or an identified group of individuals (“for-cause” testing). Campus healthcare professionals will determine the need to perform for-cause testing when, in their medical opinion, there has been a notable increase in reported positive tests or COVID-related symptoms in a common geographic area or group of people. Students required to participate in sentinel testing must also participate in for-cause testing. Those who refuse to participate in required for-cause testing will be referred to student conduct.

Campus Exposure Notification (Required)

There will be documented cases of COVID-19 on UA System campuses. Prompt notification enables a proactive response to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Individuals must report COVID-positive test results and suspected exposures. Each campus will then provide direct notification to members of the campus community of their potential exposure. The campus exposure notification does not replace contact tracing measures employed by the state and local health departments.

Exposure Notification App (Voluntary)

The UA System strongly encourages voluntary and anonymous participation in the Guide SafeTM Exposure Notification application, which notifies participants having close contact with a person reporting a positive COVID­19 test in the prior fourteen (14) days.

Isolation and Quarantine (Required)*

The Health subcommittee will provide campus health officers with regular updates on quarantine and isolation guidelines based on changing CDC and ADPH guidance. UA System campuses have protocols in place to contact campus community members who have reported a COVID-positive test or multiple COVID-related symptoms through Healthcheck.
COVID-positive tests, suspected close contacts, or an increase in COVID-related symptoms must be reported in Healthcheck. Compliance with quarantine and isolation requirements issued by ADPH, local health departments, or campus officials, includes any requirement for on-campus residents to relocate from their residence to dedicated isolation and quarantine space on campus. On-campus residents who are required to relocate for isolation and quarantine will be given the option to return home for their quarantine and isolate period.

Campus Command Centers (Required)

Campus command centers will function as a centralized information resource that monitors ongoing compliance, health clearance, utilization of isolation space, community trends, and the capacity of local healthcare providers. Campus command centers must provide daily monitoring updates to campus leadership, and updates to System leadership no less than twice weekly.

On-campus Instruction (Required)

Each campus will resume in-person classes according to their academic calendar, and will now end in-person instruction before Thanksgiving break. Each campus will eliminate all scheduled breaks in instruction before Thanksgiving, outside of any nationally recognized holiday. Additional instruction occurring after Thanksgiving break must be delivered remotely.

Instruction will be delivered through a combination of in-person and remote methods (hybrid delivery). The number of students allowed to be present for in-person instruction is limited by the physical distancing requirements that can be accommodated by a particular space.

All courses will have a remote component to ensure academic continuity for learning remotely or who are complying with a mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements.

Face Coverings (Required)

In addition to state and local health mandates, face coverings must be worn on UA System campuses and in all university owned-facilities. This applies to indoor and outdoor academic or social events sponsored by the university or university-affiliated organization. The term “face coverings” includes masks, cloth coverings over a person’s mouth and nose, and face shields.

Face coverings are not required: 

  • Individuals in indoor athletic facilities who are actively participating in an approved athletic activity
  • Walking or exercising outside while maintaining an acceptable social distance
  • When a person is in their own dorm room or suite, or alone in an enclosed office or study room
  • In one’s vehicle

ANY EMPLOYEE OR STUDENT WHO FAILS TO COMPLY WITH THESE REQUIREMENTS WILL BE SUBJECT TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Physical Distancing (Required)

Physical distancing or social distancing is defined as at least six feet circumferential distance regardless of space size. Plexiglass barriers may be used to separate rows in classrooms. Physical distancing measures are required in all university facilities.

Student and Academic Event Limitations (Required)

Student Events On- and Off-campus

All off-campus student events organized by or for a student or a student organization are STRICTLY PROHIBITED, absent special approval from the Vice President of Student Life. Regardless of location, large gatherings of any kind organized by or for a student or a student organization are PROHIBITED. This includes but is not limited to band parties, swaps, formals, and out-of-town parties.  All gatherings are subject to the attendance limitations set out below. 

Attendance Limitations for Academic and Student Events

Unless otherwise dictated by state or local health ordinances, all on-campus academic and student events are subject to the following limitations:

  • Event attendance is limited to the number of people that can be accommodated, taking into account square foot and physical distancing requirements. Event attendance may not exceed fifty (50) people indoors and one-hundred (100) people outdoors.
  • Attendance at athletic events will be addressed in event-specific plans.
    • Event Registration

      All academic and student events permitted on campus must comply with state and local health ordinances, and System and campus policies.  All events must be registered in accordance with campus registration guidelines, and must include the proposed number of attendees and a plan for maintaining social distancing.  Except for seated meals, any food or beverages provided during an event must be provided as individual grab-and-go options. Event organizers must provide attendees with a link to the Guide SafeTM Healthcheck twenty-four (24) hours before the event, and must use the Event Passport to facilitate access into the event. A list of all event attendees must be maintained by the department or student organization hosting the event for no less than fourteen (14) days.  Any exception to these event limitations must be approved in writing by the Vice President for Student Life or the Provost.

      FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THESE GUIDELINES WILL RESULT IN SANCTIONS AGAINST STUDENTS AND STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS

Visitor Policies

Visitors in On-Campus Housing (Required)

Access to on-campus housing is restricted until further notice. Only residents will be allowed access to the living spaces in an on-campus housing facility. This restriction excludes employees, security personnel, and other individuals having an essential reason to access the facility. An “essential reason” will be pre-approved by campus housing or an organization’s house corps. This restriction applies to the living spaces in all on-campus housing facilities. This restriction applies to living spaces in sorority and fraternity houses, but does not prevent general members from accessing the house for meals or organized meetings.

Off-campus Visitors to Campus

To minimize the risk of COVID-19 being brought to campus, visitor access must be limited. Visitors should come to campus or the System Office only by invitation or for specific events. All official visitors should be pre-approved, and either complete the Guide SafeTM Healthcheck and Passport or provide evidence of a recent negative test or other medical clearance. UA System campuses must clearly communicate these expectations regarding off-campus visitors to all employees, students, and parents.

Compliance and Enforcement (Required)

Compliance with and enforcement of all System and campus health and safety requirements is mandatory. The campuses and System Office will emphasize to employees, contractors, advisors, and volunteers that it is their responsibility and obligation to comply with all health and safety requirements. The campuses and System Office should empower their employees to enforce these requirements using established policies and training to promote consistent enforcement.

The campuses and the System Office will implement interim policies codifying the requirements of the UA System’s Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan and their approved plans. Interim policies will be effective immediately but are subject to revision under Board Rule 108 if they conflict with federal, state, or local ordinances, or the UA System’s Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan.

Human Resources and Student Affairs will reinforce these expectations through frequent communications to employees and students, and each student organization’s officers, advisors, faculty representatives, and members. Student organizations will be held responsible and sanctioned appropriately for failing to enforce campus policies and directives related to COVID-19.

Click here for a PDF version of the Plan.