Fall 2021 Return Plan

The University of Alabama is delighted to welcome students, faculty, staff and friends back to campus for an exciting fall semester. We are grateful to everyone who has made our return possible. Widespread utilization of the life-saving COVID vaccine has helped us plan our Fall 2021 semester experience.

We strongly encourage every member of our campus community to be vaccinated — to keep you and our campus safe. As we continue our participation on the UA System Health and Safety Task Force, we will be nimble and responsive to fluid circumstances and will keep you advised of any necessary changes as we move forward.
— President Stuart R. Bell

This plan serves as an interim policy and directives for Fall 2021. Compliance is required with these terms, UA System Health and Safety Guidelines, and updates published at healthinfo.ua.edu (collectively “health and safety” guidelines). Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action and/or removal from campus.

UA’S FALL 2021 PLAN FOR OPERATIONS

  • UA plans to return to pre-pandemic operations for Fall 2021 with the guidelines outlined in this plan.
  • Class delivery and absence guidelines will return to pre-pandemic expectations.
  • Vaccination is strongly encouraged. Members of the campus community remain subject to public health guidance, including quarantine for unvaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19.
  • UA will continue to offer the vaccines at no cost through the Student Health Center (SHC) and University Medical Center (UMC).

COVID-19 SUPPORT PROGRAM (CV19)

  • UA will continue its CV19 support program to assist faculty, staff, and students with questions, referrals, and exposure notification.
  • Faculty, staff, and students must report COVID-positive test results to CV19 (205-348-CV19) and follow required public health guidelines and instructions of CV19.
  • The latest COVID information will continue to be posted at healthinfo.ua.edu. Every member of the campus community should monitor symptoms, test as needed, and contact CV19 with questions.

FACE COVERINGS

Following guidance from the UA System Health and Safety Task Force, the UA campus requirement for face coverings has been extended through Oct. 29. Face coverings continue to be required inside all non-residential campus buildings, including all classrooms and academic buildings, and on campus transportation. The rule applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Limited exceptions include:

  • In office workspaces when distanced
  • When alone in offices and private workspaces
  • In residence hall rooms
  • In residential common areas when distanced
  • While actively eating or drinking (in dining venues – while seated at a table)
  • While actively exercising
  • When teaching, if distanced and behind plexiglass

VACCINES AND VACCINATED INDIVIDUALS

As a federal contractor, The University of Alabama, like most higher education institutions, must comply with Executive Order 14042 and accompanying guidance. Consequently, the University is required to ensure that all UA employees are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Dec. 8, 2021, unless they have an approved medical, disability, or religious exemption.

  • UMC and SHC continue to provide vaccines at no cost to faculty, staff, and students.
  • All members of the campus community are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.
  • UA will encourage vaccination with student incentive programs, support for individual decisions, and appeals to “Protect our Herd.”
  • Vaccinated individuals are not subject to quarantine protocols for mere exposure; and are not required to participate in “for-cause,” entry, or sentinel testing.
  • All students, faculty, and staff are asked to report their vaccination status at healthinfo.ua.edu/vaccine if vaccinated off campus.

UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS

  • UA encourages everybody to be educated and informed about the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Unvaccinated individuals remain subject to increased public health guidelines.
  • Per CDC and ADPH guidance, unvaccinated individuals remain subject to quarantine/isolation protocols, in the event of a positive test or potential exposure.
  • Individuals required to follow quarantine/isolation protocols should plan to return to their legal residence. For campus residents unable to return home, UA will maintain limited on-campus housing designated for this purpose.
  • “For-cause” testing may be required for specified, unvaccinated individuals under the UA System Health and Safety plan in the event of a suspected increase in exposures at a specific location or among an identified group.
  • Faculty teaching in-person classes are not required to provide online options due to COVID quarantine or isolation, absent necessary accommodations. Missing up to two weeks of class can have a major impact on academic experiences and potentially affect grades.

TESTING

  • Voluntary testing remains readily available at SHC and UMC.
  • Athletic teams will follow NCAA, conference, and host site requirements.

EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION, QUARANTINE AND ISOLATION

  • All faculty, staff, and students must report positive tests to CV19, and follow provided directions and participate in exposure notification processes.
  • All faculty, staff, and students who test positive for CV19 must isolate in accordance with CDC and ADPH guidance.
  • Unvaccinated individuals must follow CDC and ADPH guidance related to quarantine protocols in the event of possible exposure.

VULNERABLE/AT-RISK INDIVIDUALS AND ACCOMMODATIONS

  • CDC and other guidance define certain individuals as vulnerable, or more at-risk.
  • In addition to providing vaccines, UA will provide face coverings to at-risk employees and students who request them, along with other reasonable preventive steps.
  • Existing accommodations processes remain available, and those at-risk, especially those who are not vaccinated, should take appropriate actions and precautions.
  • Employees – At-risk employees may exercise regular sick leave and annual leave, and may apply for accommodations under existing benefits and programs. Special COVID leave is no longer provided. The Human Resources Office will address specific questions or issues.
  • Students – Course delivery was specified as students registered for fall semester courses to facilitate the format most appropriate for their needs. Those who registered for courses requiring attendance must abide by the syllabus. Students who wish to request accommodations due to a clinically diagnosed disability should contact the Office of Disability Services.

EVENTS

  • Events are returning to pre-pandemic rules. Participants should note attendance will increase risks, especially for those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated.
  • Unvaccinated individuals are expected to wear a mask inside campus buildings and continue to practice social distancing wherever possible.
  • Camps will operate under rules and guidelines specified by UA’s Youth Protection Program.

ENFORCEMENT

  • All members of the campus community (faculty, staff, and students) and all visitors must adhere to health and safety guidelines, including any directives issued to individual community members by public health professionals and/or the CV19 Support Program.  Violators may be referred to student conduct, HR, and/or other appropriate offices or processes.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

  • UA-sponsored domestic travel is allowable, per UA travel policies and with supervisory approval.
  • Any non-essential UA-sponsored international travel continues to be prohibited, except as approved by UA’s international travel health and safety officer, Chad Berry at chad.berry@ua.edu.

ONGOING MONITORING AND IMPROVEMENT

  • UA System Health and Safety Task Force – UA professionals are active participants in the Task Force (uasystem.edu/covid-19).
  • Situational Response Team – President Bell established the SRT to serve as the campus command center, monitor and address issues and data, continuously assess the University’s plan, recommend adjustments, and advise leadership.
  • Presidential Advisory Committee – President Bell established an advisory committee to help establish the initial return plan. It has grown in both membership and functions, with additional faculty, staff, and student representatives to provide guidance and advice related to the campus community and its response to this plan.

NOTICES

Ongoing Updates

As the situation related to COVID-19 evolves, UA protocols will change.  Continually monitor official channels of communication including emails and the  UA Health Info website, along with System plans at uasystem.edu.

Changes in Format or Schedule – Academics and Events

UA is committed to maintaining the delivery of instruction to allow students to continue their education with minimal disruption, but cannot guarantee or promise to provide a specific mode of delivery of services, classes, instruction, or experiences, or that the mode of delivery will not change during the semester.  This could include the transition from previously planned methods of delivery including on-campus, hybrid, and remote classes and experiences to – if circumstances warrant – the exclusive provision of services, classes, and other instruction or experiences on a remote basis, as practicable, or on an alternative schedule. While the method of delivery may change, educational instruction and opportunities will continue. As such, UA will not provide any refund of tuition, in whole or in-part, based on a change in the mode of instruction or schedule of delivery of any services, classes or other instruction or experiences.

Final approval of an event may be denied, cancelled, or revoked by the Vice President for Student Life or Provost up to the day of the event, if necessitated by COVID or any other public health emergency.  Expenses incurred are the risk of student groups and will not be factored into the decision.

Acknowledgements

COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness or even death, and there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any place where people are present. Participation in on-campus educational programs and activities, events, on-campus work, clinical programs, or other campus activities may expose individuals to a risk of contracting COVID-19, especially if unvaccinated. Even if individuals and UA use all reasonable care, there is still a risk of exposure or infection while on UA grounds or property, or while taking part in UA activities or business.

The University of Alabama System and UA have implemented rules, regulations, and protocols, including the health and safety guidelines.  Faculty, staff, and students must comply with all health and safety guidelines and directives, currently summarized in this document, but which may be revised from time to time.

Faculty, staff, and students must notify the CV19 Support Program and their supervisor (for employees) or Student Health (for students) in the event that they test positive for COVID-19, or are otherwise subject to quarantine or isolation under public health guidelines.  Faculty, staff, and students must not return to campus until receiving written clearance from the CV19 Support Program.

Failure to comply may subject faculty, staff, or students to discipline, up to and including the suspension or termination of employment, or suspension or expulsion from campus.