AUM makes preparations to keep students safe from COVID-19 this fall

AUM makes preparations to keep students safe from COVID-19 this fall
Signs that read "mind your wingspan" can be spotted throughout AUM as a reminder to keep a six-foot distance. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - College students can expect to see some changes made on campus when they head back to school this fall.

Alabama’s Executive Director for Alabama Commission on Higher Education James Purcell said all colleges and universities in the state have indicated that they will return to on-campus learning in the fall. The majority will offer half in-person instruction and half online.

“Most of them will have a spacing protocol for their classes,” Purcell said. “Some will have students actually coming in in shifts. One day actually in the class and one day listening in or watching through Zoom.”

Auburn University at Montgomery is going to have students alternate between in-class and online learning to minimize the number of students in a classroom or computer lab at once.

“If we have a class that meets Tuesday, Thursday we’re asking 50 percent to be in class on Tuesday. The other 50 percent can log in remotely and actually interact live with the class and professor,” said AUM Chancellor Dr. Carl A. Stockton. “Then on Thursday we’re flip-flopping.”

“If a student comes down with the virus, and they have to be quarantined at home or in the residence halls they won’t miss class because they still have that live interaction with the classroom,” Stockton went on to say.

AUM released their back to campus guidelines for students and faculty last week.

Stockton said this is a “living document” and will be updated with changes as they come about.

Right now AUM is enforcing social distancing across campus. Signs that read "mind your wingspan" can be spotted throughout the university as a reminder to keep a six-foot distance.

“Mind your wingspan is kind of a play on our mascot Curtiss The Warhawk. So we’re telling students that to give them an idea of what six feet is,” Stockton said.

Auburn University at Montgomery is going to have students alternate between in-class and online learning to minimize the number of students in a classroom or computer lab at once.
Auburn University at Montgomery is going to have students alternate between in-class and online learning to minimize the number of students in a classroom or computer lab at once. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

They are also requiring a mask to be worn indoors and on the Warhawk transit at all times. Stockton said every student will be provided with a single cloth mask before the semester begins.

They are also ramping up on sanitation.

“We’ve increased the level of cleaning on our campus,” Stockton said. “But we’re also asking the campus community to help us with the additional cleaning themselves.”

Dining hall tables are spread out and outside eating is being encouraged. The campus has also added new safe options for students to eat.

“We’re also going to have a pick-up service where a student has an app they can order what they want and then they can go by and pick it up,” Stockton said. “We’re also looking at a delivery service so if a student is at a residence hall and they say ‘I’m in room 121’ and they go in the app and they order what they want, we will deliver that food to the residence hall.”

Instead of three roommates inside residence halls, AUM has limited the number to two.

“We’ve also set aside a set of dorm rooms in case a student comes down with the virus that we can isolate them,” Stockton said.

They also have the Warhawk Health Center that will have testing available for students. Results can be given in as soon as 15 minutes.

If a student tests positive for the virus, students who live in or near Montgomery are being asked to quarantine at home.

AUM is testing all 5,000 plus students for the coronavirus before they are allowed on campus.

“We’re going to set up a testing center somewhere in this area and we’re going to give directions to students to get tested and then submit their documentation,” Stockton said.

If a student gets tested and is positive, they will not be allowed on campus without isolating themselves first.

“If they’re positive then we’re going to ask them to be quarantined for 14 days and follow the medical protocol,” Stockton said.

The state has also funded testing for AUM to able to randomly test students, faculty, and staff throughout the year to monitor if there are any cases of COVID-19 on campus.

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