Category: General Messages

Sentinel Testing Continues in Spring 2021 with Improvements

To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19 sentinel testing of campus community members will continue in Spring 2021, with more frequent testing scheduled the first three weeks of the semester.

Participants will receive incentives like Starbucks or Bama Cash gift cards, or other items.

Beginning this semester, all sentinel testing will be managed through UA medical facilities, so registration is no longer required.

Sentinel testing captures a random sampling of students, faculty and staff to help monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 so UA can respond promptly to outbreaks or increases in infection rates.

Spring 2021 sentinel testing will include a sample of the UA population and is planned to be conducted weekly for three consecutive weeks beginning Jan. 19 and every other week thereafter.

Participation in sentinel testing is voluntary for most, but required for:

  • Students living on campus;
  • Students participating in clinical activities, who will have a presence on campus at any time during the semester; and
  • Other individuals participating in University-sponsored programs, at the discretion of UA.

Because sentinel testing is one of several important measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus and keeping campus safe, voluntary participation is strongly encouraged.

If randomly selected, individuals will receive an email from the COVID-19 Support Program with instructions. Participants will choose a time and location to take the test conveniently, confidentially, and at no cost. A PCR test with a short nasal swab will be self-administered under observation, and results returned within 72 hours.

Additional Changes to Sentinel Testing for Spring 2021

  • Once an individual participates in sentinel testing, they will not be included in the selection pool again for 30 days.
  • All persons who are randomly selected and agree to participate will be tested regardless of previous COVID-19 test results.
  • Those who have isolated because of a positive test in the last 12 weeks will not be required to isolate again if the sentinel test is positive.

Sentinel testing is one of many measures, such as physical distancing and face coverings, that UA is taking to protect the campus community as outlined in its Spring 2021 Return Plan in accordance with The University of Alabama System’s COVID-19 updated guidelines.

More information on sentinel testing, return testing, for-cause testing and more can be found at the UA Healthinfo website or by contacting the COVID-19 Support Program.

Message from the President – Oct. 12

Dear Faculty, Staff, Students and Parents,

I am very encouraged by the trends regarding COVID-19 cases on our campus and I am optimistic about finishing the fall semester together and returning for the spring semester with increased in-person learning and community opportunities. I am extremely grateful for the enduring commitment demonstrated by our faculty, staff, students and their families during these challenging times. That commitment and resilience have allowed us to continue to be on our campus and now to look forward to an engaging spring semester.

Tomorrow we will deliver important campus updates via our virtual Fall Campus Assembly for faculty and staff. I look forward to sharing good news concerning our progress as a University while also highlighting the recent achievements and remarkable contributions of our campus community. We will recognize our outstanding faculty and staff, including naming recipients of some of our most prestigious awards.

Speaking of awards, the University Awards Committee is currently accepting applications for UA’s six Premier Awards, the highest honors given here at the Capstone. The awards are presented to remarkable students, faculty and staff who exemplify the highest standards of scholarship, service, leadership and character. The application/nomination deadline is Nov. 15, and recipients will be celebrated during the spring semester.

The 2020 Beat Auburn Beat Hunger Food Drive kicked off Oct. 1 and will run through Nov. 19. All food and monetary donations benefit the West Alabama Food Bank, which serves nine counties. Now more than ever, families need our support to provide nourishment for their loved ones. I encourage you to help us beat Auburn again this year in this friendly, worthwhile competition.

We will welcome the Georgia Bulldogs and College GameDay this weekend for a Top 5 gridiron showdown. The eyes of the nation will be on us once again as Coach Saban and our student-athletes represent the University with class and pride. I am very proud of how our students and fans have responded to the stadium guidelines established to ensure a safe game day experience.

In closing, with only 60 days until fall commencement, each of us has so much for which to be thankful. I appreciate your ongoing dedication and support as we finish the semester strong and Tide Together.

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Oct. 1

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents,

I am greatly encouraged by the continued efforts and excellent progress of our campus community in staying safe and healthy. For the third successive week, positive COVID cases at the University have dropped dramatically. Last week we saw a 60 percent decrease in student positives and record lows in occupancy of our isolation/quarantine space. I encourage everyone to stay the course and remain vigilant by sharing health information through UA Healthcheck, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Earlier this week, Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope shared positive newsabout new guidelines allowing additional student activities. Effective today, and with safety measures in place, UA student organizations can begin hosting non-social engagement events that support their mission. Our more than 600 student organizations offer opportunities for growth, connection and leadership development that are an integral part of the Alabama experience. These new guidelines will allow these organizations to engage our students as they have in past semesters.

Class schedules for spring will be published next week and we have recently announced a modified 2021 Spring Semester calendar. First and foremost, we will see greater in-class learning opportunities for students across the board and on-campus residence will continue as normal in the spring. Please note these calendar modifications:

  • Our student Winter break is extended by one week with classes beginning Wednesday, Jan. 13.
  • With travel concerns and the lengthened Winter break, we will not include a Spring break week.
  • The last day for students to add/drop classes without a “W” is Wednesday, Jan. 20.
  • Classes will not meet on Monday, March 15, but University offices will remain open.

This weekend our 2020 game day protocols will enable us to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans visiting Bryant-Denny Stadium. Whether enjoying a watch party from home or cheering from the stands, it will be an exciting afternoon of SEC football.

I am proud of your continued commitment to our mission and remain grateful for your support. Tide Together, we will persist and prevail.

Roll Tide!

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Sept. 14

Dear students, faculty, staff and parents,

I want to thank each of you for your commitment, patience and resilience. Your actions are making a measureable and positive impact on our campus.

Last week provided strong and encouraging data affirming that we are on course and on mission.

  • The UA System dashboard update showed a 65% drop in COVID-positive cases on our campus week-over-week.
  • Our Division of Student Life outlined areas of relaxation to the in-person gatherings moratorium.
  • We announced fall enrollment of 37,842, reflecting the high value our students and parents see in an on-campus education here at the Capstone.
  • Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Response, visited Tuscaloosa Friday to meet with System and University leaders, including a number of our outstanding students. An esteemed physician and global health leader, Dr. Birx was highly complimentary of our comprehensive Health and Safety program and our campus initiatives.

I am very proud of the progress we have made, and we can’t stop now.

  • Wear your mask.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Avoid large gatherings.

This week we continue implementing our sentinel testing program. For students, faculty and staff: if you haven’t set up your account, please go to to participate in this important initiative. Those with questions are encouraged to utilize the newly enhanced COVID19 hotline at 205-348-2819.

The University of Alabama is known worldwide as the Capstone because we look after one another and set an example for those around us. Thank you for helping lead the way. Because of you, we are all Tide Together.

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Sept. 9

Dear students, faculty, staff and parents,

Hoping your Labor Day weekend was safe and relaxing, I want to update you on three COVID-19 steps we have implemented effective today.

  • For our students who test positive and prepare to move to campus isolation space, staffing and medical resources have been enhanced to ensure prompt communication and expanded services.
  • The COVID19 hotline (205-348-2819) has been upgraded to speed the delivery of answers to your questions. The UA healthinfo website is another good resource.
  • A key component of our plan, sentinel testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff, began yesterday and will continue weekly. Participation is required for all students who live on campus and other select groups. Verily, the company that has worked with us on many aspects of our testing program, will notify you if you are selected for sentinel screening.

Other testing reminders:

  • Testing for students who are symptomatic or have been exposed is 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. each weekday at Coleman Coliseum.
  • Testing for employees who are symptomatic or have been exposed is 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. each weekday at University Medical Center.
  • For-cause testing in geographic areas or groups continues as determined by UA health officials.
  • The Student Health Center will remain open for any weekend testing needs.

As a reminder from the Division of Student Life, we are continuing the moratorium on student events through Sept. 13 as we meet with student leaders and health officials to determine the appropriate next steps.

The health and safety of our community is our top priority and we will use every resource available to assist with testing, education and enforcement. Thank you for your commitment, patience and resiliency in the face of these challenges as they are making a difference.

Tide Together,

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Sept. 3

Dear students, faculty and staff,

As Labor Day approaches, we must all remain vigilant in following the Health and Safety protocols designed to help protect you, your family and our University community.

Wherever you spend the holiday, remember to:

  • Wear your mask.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Complete isolation or quarantine, if applicable.

Our robust testing, isolation and quarantine protocols make it possible for us to contain the coronavirus and keep us together this fall. To accomplish our goals, it is imperative that all of us do our part, in all settings on and off campus. Violations of our Health and Safety directives will continue to be investigated and appropriate actions will follow.

Our COVID hotline will remain open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the weekend, so please call 205-348-CV19 if you have questions or health concerns. Our Healthinfo website is continually updated with the latest information and is an excellent resource.

Your continued commitment is the key to unlock the Alabama experience this fall and beyond. I hope you have a safe holiday weekend!

Tide Together,

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Aug. 31

To students, faculty and staff:

This past week’s increase in COVID-positive cases among our students is of grave concern to me and to everyone who loves and cares for The University of Alabama.

Our Health and Safety Plan is guiding our operations aimed at reversing this trend through educating, testing, reporting, specialized care for at-risk students and disciplinary actions when required. As we accelerate education and enforcement efforts on and off campus, we look to each of you to do your part.

Those who fail to abide by the Health and Safety protocols face serious consequences. To date, we have issued more than 400 conduct referrals for COVID-related violations. Interim measures removing individuals from campus have been imposed in several of these cases. Those who blatantly disregard the rules will not be given the option of jeopardizing the semester for everyone else.

In addition to wearing your mask and practicing social distancing, it is imperative that you comply with all aspects of our testing and isolation or quarantine protocols. Students with COVID symptoms should seek testing through the Student Health Center or the University Medical Center testing site at Coleman Coliseum.

If you choose to test off campus, you are required to share positive results with the CV19 Support Program immediately by calling 205-348-CV19. Anyone who fails to disclose a positive test or violates the University’s isolation or quarantine protocols is subject to severe disciplinary action.

Sentinel testing will begin soon. The updated UA System Comprehensive Health and Safety Planoutlines mandatory participation for cause and cluster testing. Please read these updates carefully and contact the UA COVID-19 Support Program if you have questions.

Everyone who truly values the Alabama experience will continue to follow our Health and Safety protocols, which provide a path to complete the semester together on campus. I want to thank all of you – the vast majority of our campus community – for your sacrifice and commitment in support of our shared goals.

Tide Together,

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Aug. 26

Dear students, faculty and staff:

At this critical time, we must be united and fully committed in our fight against COVID-19. I believe we will be successful this semester, and we all want to remain on campus throughout this fall, but we can only do so with your daily assistance. Whether in class, at home, or out and about in Tuscaloosa, please:
1. Wear your mask;
2. Practice social distancing; and
3. Use the UA Healthcheck.

These measures, along with the limitations on gatherings on and off campus announced last Friday, are mandatory. Those who ignore them will face significant consequences, including suspension.

We will continue to be nimble and proactive in the coming days and weeks. I appreciate the support of Mayor Walt Maddox and the City of Tuscaloosa. We will maintain a constant dialogue with city officials to ensure the safety of the broader Tuscaloosa community. Also, we will continue to meet virtually with faculty, staff and student leaders to hear concerns, share important information and find ways to best serve the needs of our campus and community. Thank you in advance for how each of you are continuing to do your part and together we stand ready for the challenges.

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Aug. 23

Dear students, faculty and staff,

This is a critical moment for The University of Alabama.

Despite the robust testing, training, health and safety measures we carefully and clearly implemented, there is an unacceptable rise in positive COVID cases on our campus.

Make no mistake, this trend is a real threat to our ability to complete the semester on campus. The solution is proven: testing, mask wearing, social distancing, personal hygiene and compliance with crowd size limits are all that are asked as we work together to complete the semester together.

Violations to our health and safety protocols, both on and off campus, are subject to harsh disciplinary action, up to and including suspension from UA.

UAPD and the Tuscaloosa Police Department are partnering to monitor bars, restaurants and off-campus residences where the city’s COVID-19 ordinances and UA guidelines are not being followed. Joint task force officers are risking their personal health and safety to protect yours. UAPD officers are also focusing efforts on our residence halls and Greek housing to ensure safety and compliance.

Completing the fall semester together is our goal. The margin for error is shrinking.

Now is the time to take action, commit to protect each other, and hold each other accountable. Thank you for taking your responsibilities seriously. Together, through shared sacrifice and commitment, we will achieve our goal.

Tide Together,

Stuart R. Bell

Message from the President – Aug. 21

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The University recently shared with all of you the policies and directives that underpin our plan to return to operations this semester.

The expected rules and behaviors of all students and student organizations have been clearly defined. While we are appreciative to those who have taken these expectations seriously, I am deeply disappointed that those guidelines are not being followed by each and every member of our student body.

This afternoon the Division of Student Life will announce additional directives that are focused solely on the safety and well-being of our campus community. That information also will be shared with the parents and families of our students.

Tide Together now more than ever, we are seeing the harsh consequences at other universities which have been forced to close abruptly because safety protocols were not followed.  The eyes of the nation are following us closely and I am confident we will meet and exceed our status as frontrunners.

Despite the challenges, we can measure success by many benchmarks.

  • Our student re-entry testing is nearly complete and the positive rate is around 1%, far below national averages. Results will be posted at beginning Monday afternoon on the new System-wide data dashboard and will be updated as we move into sentinel testing.
  • More than 20 employees have been assigned to focus solely on exposure notifications, isolation, quarantining and sanitization protocols. More than 450 beds have been dedicated for isolation purposes. Although more than 90% of those beds are vacant, we will expand those resources as needed.
  • Hundreds of hours have been invested by our Situational Response Team and the President’s Advisory Committee to develop and implement guidelines that are consistent with the UA System Task Force Comprehensive Health and Safety Plan. Their work continues 24/7.
  • As an institution, we are 45,000 strong, representing every county in Alabama, every state in the nation, and most countries around the world. It is a privilege to lead you.
  • Please know that I am counting on each of you not only to do your part to keep our campus safe, but to report any activities that you believe might compromise the overall health and safety of our University community. Reports can be made online or by calling 1-866-362-9476.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions, which we urge you to share at

Thank you,

Stuart R. Bell