University to End COVID Protocols
Given plummeting case numbers and the widespread availability of vaccines and treatments, and in consultation with public health guidance, The University of Alabama is ending its COVID-19 protocols:
- Effective Monday, Feb. 21, masking will no longer be mandatory in indoor locations.
- Campus-provided quarantine and isolation space will be phased out over the remainder of the semester.
- CV19 case management and hotline services will remain available on a limited basis, consistent with declining cases.
Masking will remain in effect in patient care areas (including areas specifically designated by UA medical experts) and on public transportation (as mandated by federal law). Those who are sick or symptomatic may test at the Student Health Center or University Medical Center, seek treatment, and stay home when advised. Those at heightened risk — and especially those who are unvaccinated — are strongly advised to be vaccinated, boosted, continue to wear masks and continue to limit their interactions with others.
“Our campus team has thoroughly reviewed the best available information and considered our own experience in addressing COVID over the past two years,” said Dr. Ricky Friend, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences. “The University has provided the indispensable service of education, while protecting our community. This is the next phase in continuing our essential mission.
“Services will remain available at SHC and UMC, and those who are sick or symptomatic — especially those who are at-risk, immunocompromised as defined by the CDC, and/or unvaccinated — should take precautions. If you are sick, stay home, self-quarantine, and mask around others.”
National, state and University case numbers have declined dramatically in recent weeks:
- Student weekly cases have fallen from a high of 393 (Jan. 17-23) to 23 last week.
- Employee weekly cases have fallen from a high of 140 (Jan. 10-16) to 24 last week.
- Quarantine-isolation space usage has been as low as zero.
- Vaccines have been available at UMC, SHC and many other locations for more than a year.
The University decision comes at the recommendation of the campus’ Situational Response Team, which includes experts with epidemiological, medical and other expertise. Other public health officials, including the Alabama Department of Public Health, were also consulted.
Campus administration and health care providers will continue to monitor COVID-19, as they do any other infectious disease. The Situational Response Team can be re-convened if needed, and plans for outbreaks remain in existence.