More than 1,200 students and 166 employees at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa have tested positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks since in-person instruction began. The university’s cases have more than doubled since last week’s reported number of 531 coronavirus cases.
“Make no mistake, this trend is a real threat to our ability to complete the semester on campus,” UA President Stuart R. Bell wrote in a letter to students, faculty, and staff.
To combat the spread, both campus police and Tuscaloosa police will monitor restaurants, off-campus housing, and Greek housing to ensure that everyone is following COVID safety guidelines. Additionally, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced a two-week closure of bars and bar service at restaurants.
Students found to be violating health and safety protocols, both on and off-campus, may also face disciplinary actions, including suspension.
COVID Hits Campuses Nationwide
University of Alabama is not the only college campus facing a spike in coronavirus cases soon after reopening for fall semester. According to CNN, almost half of US states are reporting COVID-19 cases on college campuses.
Last week, the University of North Carolina closed after there was a surge of COVID-19 cases in on-campus residence halls, at a private apartment complex, and an off-campus fraternity. Although a majority of cases were not severe, the school moved all undergraduate courses online immediately.
Likewise, the University of Notre Dame halted in-person classes after reporting more than 400 COVID-19 cases.
Colleges are also cracking down on students breaking COVID-19 guidelines. Last week, Ohio State University suspended more than 200 students who violated the school’s regulations around socializing, which include mandatory face masks, social distancing, and limiting to gatherings to no more than 10 people.
This week, the State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta suspended in-person instruction for two weeks after a coronavirus cluster developed on campus. CNN reports that five students and three campus organizations were suspended for holding parties and violating college policies