UPDATED MAY 21, 2021

Message from Chancellor Finis St. John

Our System is grateful for our three campus communities and the employees of the UAB Health System, who worked together to navigate through a successful academic year in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic.

In our Comprehensive Health & Safety Plan, we continue to draw on the world-renowned expertise of the physicians, scientists, and researchers at The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and throughout our UAB Health System. With their guidance, I am confident we will have a full, normal on-campus experience as our students, faculty and staff return for the Fall 2021 semester.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and our System leadership, thank you for your commitment to our guiding principles and our work on behalf of the citizens of Alabama. While we are individually distinct, we are altogether stronger.

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

Signature of Finis St. John IV.

Finis St. John IV, Chancellor
The University of Alabama System


Contents

  1. Task Force Membership
  2. COVID-19 Vaccines
  3. Testing
  4. Safety Protocols
  5. Event Policies
  6. Dining Policies
  7. Visitor Policies
  8. Compliance and Enforcement
  9. Finance and Administration
  10. Research
  11. Communications
  12. Continuation of Activities of the Taskforce

Task Force Membership

  • Selwyn Vickers, M.D., Senior Vice President and Dean of School of Medicine, UAB, Co-Chair
  • Charlie Taylor, Director for External Affairs, UA System, Director of Operations

Campus Incident Command Subcommittee

  • Chad Tindol, Chief Administrative Officer, UA
  • Mary Kathryn Crenshaw, Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, UAB
  • Kristi Motter, Vice President for Student Affairs, UAH

Academic Affairs Subcommittee

  • James Dalton, Ph.D. Executive Vice President and Provost, UA
  • Pam Benoit, Ph.D. Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, UAB
  • Christine Curtis, Ph.D. Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, UAH

Communications and Reputational Risk Subcommittee

  • Lynn L. Cole, Director of System Communications, UA System
  • Ryan Bradley, Interim Vice President of Communications, UA
  • Monica Watts, Associate Vice President of Communications, UA
  • Jim Bakken, APR Chief Communications Officer, UAB
  • Rosie O’Beirne, Chief Digital Strategy & Marketing Officer, UAB
  • Elizabeth Gibisch, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, UAH

Finance and Administration Subcommittee

  • Stan Acker, Assistant Vice Chancellor For Finance and Administration, UA System
  • Cheryl Mowdy, Assistant Vice President for Administration, UA
  • Brian Burnett, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, UAB
  • Todd Barre, Vice President of Finance, UAH

Health Subcommittee

  • Richard Friend, M.D., Dean of the College of Community Health Sciences, UA
  • John Higginbotham, Ph.D., Senior Associate Vice President for Research & Economic Development, UA
  • Edward Crump, Senior Director of Environmental Services, UAB
  • Toni Leeth, M.P.H., Associate Dean for Strategic Planning and Administration, UAB
  • Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., Director for Division of Infectious Diseases, UAB Medicine
  • Craig J. Hoesley, M.D., Senior Associate Dean, Medical Education, UAB School of Medicine
  • Michael Faircloth, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, UAB Health System
  • Amber McPhail, Nurse Practitioner, Director of Student Health Services, UAH
  • Paul Campbell Erwin, M.D., Ph.D., Dean, UAB School of Public Health and Professor in Health Care Organization and Policy, UAH
  • Michael S. Saag, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, UAB School of Medicine.
  • Sarah Nafziger, M.D., MSHA, Vice President, UAB Clinical Support Services

Research Subcommittee

  • Russ Mumper, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Economic Development, UA
  • Chris Brown, Ph.D., Vice President of Research, UAB
  • Rob Lindquist, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Economic Development, UAH

Safety Subcommittee

  • Mike Rodgers, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Construction Management, UA System
  • Greg Parsons, Associate Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer, UAB
  • Darryl Crider, Interim Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management, UAB
  • Kristy Olive, Director of Office of Environmental Health and Safety, UAH
  • Kevin Bennett, Director of Risk Management, UAH

Student Affairs Subcommittee

  • Myron Pope, Ph.D., Vice President of Student Life, UA
  • Matthew Kerch, Ph.D., Director of UA Housing & Residential Communities, UA
  • John Jones, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs, UAB
  • John Maxon, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, UAH

COVID-19 Vaccines

UA System campuses shall offer vaccines as available to all members of their respective campus communities. Vaccines are strongly recommended for all members of each campus community.

Testing

Symptomatic and Exposure Testing

UA System campuses shall offer symptomatic and exposure testing for any unvaccinated member of the campus community and should acquire as many tests as needed to maintain widespread availability. UA System campuses shall continue to offer symptomatic testing for fully vaccinated members of the campus community, subject to availability.

“For-Cause” Testing (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 have discretion to perform for-cause testing when there have been three or more positive tests for COVID-19 in a common geographic area or group of people. For-cause testing is required for students who live on-campus, as well as members of student organizations that are the focus of for-cause testing. Those who refuse to participate in required for-cause testing will be referred to Student Conduct officials. Fully vaccinated individuals are exempt from for-cause testing.

Student-Athletes, Coaches, and Athletic Staff

Testing protocols must comply with all NCAA, conference, and host site requirements.

Campus Exposure Notification

Campuses shall provide exposure notification services through Student Health.

Isolation and Quarantine

Fully vaccinated persons exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine in accordance with public health guidance.

Unvaccinated on-campus residents required to relocate for isolation and quarantine are recommended to return to their legal residence for their quarantine and isolation period.

For those unable to return home, UA System campuses shall maintain on-campus housing designated for isolation and quarantine space. The campuses shall provide support (academics, food, other necessary items) and active monitoring. Students required to temporarily relocate to isolation and quarantine on-campus housing shall be provided information related to healthcare, dining and other available resources.

Campus Command Centers

Campus command centers will function as centralized information resources that monitor ongoing compliance, health clearance, utilization of isolation space, community trends, and the capacity of local healthcare providers. Campus command centers must provide routine monitoring updates to campus leadership and updates to System leadership on a weekly basis. The System Office shall be notified if a campus becomes aware of any common location exposure, for-cause testing administration, or known COVID-19 related hospitalization of a student or academic faculty/staff employee.

Safety Protocols

On-campus Instruction

Resumption of In-Person Instruction

Campuses shall resume in-person classes for Fall 2021 in substantially similar modalities and capacities to Fall 2019. Wide variances from Fall 2019 modality must be approved by the UA System Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs.

Physical Distancing/Social Distancing

Physical distancing or social distancing shall be defined as at least three-feet circumferential distance, regardless of space size, between individuals not from the same household. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Plan, physical/social distancing measures must be implemented in all university facilities whenever possible.

When practical, campuses may utilize assigned seating or seating charts in classes and strategically space seating in public areas to respect physical distancing requirements.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Face Coverings

All unvaccinated faculty, staff, and students are required to wear face coverings inside all University buildings.

Face coverings are required for everyone in all clinical settings.

Reasonable accommodations will be made for those who are unable to meet this requirement.

Event Policies

University-sponsored Events

Events sponsored by the University shall follow social distancing and masking requirements consistent with this Plan.

Attendance at athletic events will be determined by sport-specific plans coordinated between the Athletic Director at each university, their respective athletic conference, and the University President.

Student Organization-sponsored Events

On-campus student events must be approved by the Vice President of Student Life and are subject to the parameters listed below. All gatherings are subject to the attendance limitations set out below.

Attendance Limitations for Student Organization Events

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

  • On-campus 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.

Event Registration

All events must be registered in accordance with campus registration guidelines and must include the proposed number of attendees. Any actions, contracts, or expenses incurred are at the risk of the student organization and will not be factored into approval or cancellation decisions.

Dining Policies

Consumption of food or beverages shall be restricted to designated areas or dining facilities on campus. On-campus dining facilities shall operate in accordance with all local or state health orders without additional restriction.

Visitor Policies

All campus visitors must comply with the health and safety protocols listed in this Plan.

Compliance and Enforcement

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 will 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.

Finance and Administration

In addition to the adoption of all requirements outlined in the Health & Safety protocols, the following applies to all UA System campuses related to Financial Affairs.

Travel Policies

University-sponsored domestic travel must be approved in accordance with University travel policies. Campuses shall prohibit all non-essential university-sponsored international travel. Campuses shall implement or use existing waiver processes to grant limited exceptions.

Track All Expenses Related to COVID-19 for Potential Reimbursement

For the purpose of potential reimbursement under FEMA, the CARES Act, ARPA, or any other existing or future stimulus program, Financial Affairs departments shall track all expenses related to COVID-19 and maintain a projection of future expenses. For assistance in determining whether an expense should be considered “related to COVID-19,” Financial Affairs departments should contact the UA System Office of Finance and Administration, which must coordinate with UA System Governmental Affairs. In accordance with Board Rule 409, all requests for reimbursement of COVID-19-related expenses from state or federal resources should be coordinated through the UA System Office.

Research

Social distancing is encouraged but not required in research laboratories. Otherwise, campus return to research plans should also incorporate the principles provided herein.

Communications

In addition to the adoption of all requirements outlined in the Health & Safety protocols, the following applies to all UA System campuses.

Consistent Messaging

Each campus should develop a communication plan to disseminate information surrounding the return to normal operations. Communication plans should address messaging for diverse campus constituents, including, leadership, students, faculty, staff, alumni, local community, media, and appropriate governmental entities. Campus plans should utilize a variety of communication methods to effectively target groups with information on campus COVID-19 mitigation efforts and changes in operational guidelines, academic calendars, and policies.

Education

Campuses should develop communication plans to educate students and employees on the UA System Comprehensive Health & Safety Plan, and their respective campus plans.

Campus communication plans should include detailed plans to notify students of updated COVID-19 guidelines, available campus and community resources for assistance, and to promote the general health and well-being of the campus population.

Continuation of Activities of the Taskforce

The Task Force understands that circumstances may necessitate modification of this plan or the implementation of additional policies and procedures to continually ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff across our three campuses. Therefore, the Task Force will remain empaneled, will periodically receive updates from campus incident command centers, and will continue to execute, analyze, and amend these procedures on a regular, as-needed basis. This plan is not meant to limit the discretion the campus or System representatives have to respond in any given situation, except as otherwise specifically stated.