By Hannah Warren
During the University of Alabama at Birminghams’ virtual town hall held Tuesday speakers addressed COVID-19, the importance of sentinel testing, flu vaccination, fall graduation, and parking passes.
“We’ve only had 200 and some odd students be positive for Covid since the very beginning back in March,” said Ray Watts, UAB President.
Watts also said that this shows UAB to have one of lowest amounts of COVID-19 among similar institutions.
“The message I think to today is vigilance,” said Pam Benoit, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost. “We’ve done remarkably well compared to a number other higher education institutions, but we need to keep that up,”
Benoit then gave a reminder to follow the guidelines that have been set in place by the university, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and participation in health checks.
Sentinel testing will continue to be conducted throughout the fall semester also.
“This testing is voluntary for the general student population, but for those in on-campus housing, clinical students, and in registered student organizations that will hold in person meetings with 10 or more folks again, its required,” said Dr. Mike Faircloth, Director, UAB Student Health Services.
This testing will be conducted weekly.
“We pick about 3-5% of the entire population a week,” said Dr. Michael Saag, Associate Dean for Global Health and professor of infectious diseases.
Students will not be charged for testing.
“If based on your symptoms you need to be COVID tested, here at student health neither you nor your insurance will be charged for COVID testing,” Faircloth said.
Faircloth also said that getting a flu vaccination is important this year.
“Getting a flu shot has always been an important preventative measure, but this year the importance is greatly magnified,” said Faircloth.
He said that similar symptoms “provides the possibility of concurrent flu and COVID-19 illness.”
The subject of parking did not escape the discussion. André Davis, Director of UAB transportation, answered a question on remote parking and If students with remote parking could use the newly vacant parking spots in the parking decks.
“We will be allowing students, for a very nominal exchange, — to switch parking zones,” Davis said. “The process will be very simple; you simply come in and exchange for the new zone you request.”.
Davis said to expect an announcement from UAB transportation next week.
In addressing the topic of fall graduation, Pam Benoit said that “there will not be an in-person graduation in December,”.
“We will do a virtual celebration of those who are graduating,” Benoit said.
Benoit suggested that UAB may follow other universities by delaying course starting dates and not having a spring break.
“One of the difficulties with spring breaks is when you go into other communities, and you come back, you have a greater potential of bringing infection back to the campus. All those things are part of the discussions we’re working on.”
Benoit also refirmed the spring semester will most likely have similar conditions to the fall semester “in terms of offering in-person, hybrid, remote, and online course offerings.”
“We are currently in the process of thinking about the spring semester,” Benoit said. “We hope to be able to make an announcement relatively soon about what we might do going into January.”.
Edited by Breeze Yancie & John H. Glenn