Fundamental Principles of UA Planning
In addition to guidance from the UA System Task Force, our advisory committee and work groups were asked to look to five fundamental principles in drafting return to full operations plans.
1. UA’s Mission and the Value of the UA Experience Must Continue.
The University of Alabama’s mission of teaching, research, and service is fundamental and necessary to the functioning of our state and nation, and the success of our students, faculty, and staff. We expect it; our students and parents expect it; our state, alumni, companies hiring our students, and other constituents expect it. Our “Mission and UA Experience” must continue.
The UA Strategic Plan: Advancing the Flagship will continue to be a guide for this mission:
Goal #1 – Provide a premier undergraduate and graduate education that offers a global perspective and is characterized by outstanding teaching, high-quality scholarship, and distinctive curricular and co-curricular programs.
Goal #2 – Increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research, scholarship and creative activities that impact economic and societal development.
Goal #3 – Enrich our learning and work environment by providing an accepting, inclusive community that attracts and supports a diverse faculty, staff and student body.
Goal #4 – Provide opportunities and resources that facilitate work-life balance and enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and staff.
2. Risks Can Be Mitigated, Not Eliminated.
While the mission continues, the means, methods, and processes of delivery must be balanced against the risks of COVID-19. All risk cannot be eliminated. The CDC and the best evidence indicate that community-based transmission has occurred and will continue.
Even as this planning process began, the CDC’s Situation Summary acknowledged that all U.S. states were reporting community spread. That underlying fact informed our planning and will inform our operations and procedures. There will be cases. What can our community do to help minimize those? Our plan must focus on ways that we can continue to educate our community to avoid infection, reasonably modify our physical surroundings and actions, test, track, focus on those at risk, and treat those who are infected.
3. Protect the Campus Community and Focus on Safeguarding the Vulnerable.
As confirmed by the CDC, vulnerable individuals are at higher risk for severe illness than others: people 65 and older; and those with serious underlying medical conditions. Our plan must strategically focus on protecting the vulnerable, to achieve the greatest success.
The largest segment of our campus population is in the 18-to-24-year-old range. CDC information on COVID-19 demonstrates a low risk of significant health impact to this population for those without underlying health conditions. At the same time, we are cognizant that risk mitigation across all demographics can be achieved with prudent planning. Such planning includes social distancing, the use of masks and hybrid and remote delivery for appropriate classes or segments of courses. All of our community will do its part to protect the more vulnerable. Designated contacts and procedures for obtaining help are part of our plan.
4. Support the Campus Community to Achieve at Its Highest Level.
Those who are at lower risk should be provided an opportunity to achieve their educational, research, and service goals, consistent with restrictions that are necessary for public health. Vulnerable individuals should be provided with reasonable alternative means of achieving success.
As discussed above, our mission must continue. Ensuring individuals achieve their goals at the highest level is a critical part of that mission.
5. Take Action to Mitigate Concerns.
As COVID cases are identified among the campus community, action will be taken to respond appropriately to the risks, including cleaning of affected areas, offering locations for necessary isolation/quarantine, and offering remote or online options for vulnerable and affected persons during appropriate times.
As issues arise, we will respond appropriately, promptly, and thoroughly. Remote and online options will be provided.