University of Montevallo releases plans for fall semester

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

The University of Montevallo has shared its evolving plans for Fall Semester 2020, stressing both University efforts and student responsibilities as part of meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The plan asks students who plan to attend class on campus to complete a 14-day quarantine at home prior to returning to UM, if possible. It also includes face covering requirements as well as COVID testing guidelines, among other points.

“We are in a partnership to keep each other safe on campus. We want everyone to be safe and healthy,” said UM Dean of Students Dr. Tammi Dahle. “It’s going to take all of us together to keep our campus healthy.”

Dahle said there are three main components of the plan, 1) mask wearing, 2) social distancing and 3) hygiene including regular hand washing and respiratory etiquette. Those within 6 feet of another person, indoors or outdoors, are expected to wear a mask when they are not in their private residence.

In a letter to students, face coverings are defined as “a cloth face covering or appropriate paper mask that covers both the nose and mouth.” The University will provide a mask to each student, faculty and staff member upon their return to campus. Residential students will be given a face mask when they check into housing, while commuter students can pick up a mask at Health Services or Student Life.

From a social distancing aspect, plans such as traffic flow patterns and floor markers are being made for 6-foot physical distancing in all instructional spaces.

“All students, faculty and staff must take personal responsibility for maintaining 6 feet of social distancing while on the UM campus,” the letter stated.

The UM plan carefully differentiates quarantine and isolation. Students who come into close contact with an individual who is positive for COVID-19 will enter an immediate 14-day quarantine unless otherwise indicated by a medical professional. Close contact is defined as “being within 6 feet of an individual who is positive for COVID-19 for 15 or more consecutive minutes.” Students are encouraged to quarantine at home.

“We always would prefer that students go home to quarantine. Most of our students are from our state,” Dahle said. “We believe that students will be more comfortable at home.”

Immediate isolation for a period of 14 days is required for students who test positive for COVID-19, unless a medical professional indicates otherwise. Isolation should take place at home, with the only exception being residential students who are unable to isolate at home. The plan also suggests that families develop a home isolation plan for their student(s) prior to coming to campus, which should include a plan to retrieve their student in case of a positive test.

“Self-monitoring will be required and additional testing may be necessary,” the letter stated. “Active monitoring, campus contact tracing and medical provider attestation will be required to return to campus.”

In order to meet testing requirements, all students will receive free COVID-19 testing through the statewide GuideSafe program for Alabama. Dahle estimated that students should expect to receive test results from between 48 to 72 hours.

Of course, students who opt to take all their classes virtually and will not be living on campus or using campus facilities will not need to get tested. Students must inform the Dean of Students Office of this decision via DeanofStudents@montevallo.edu by Aug. 13. Those taking only some classes virtually need only contact their professor(s) and the Registrar’s Office.

The UM Fall Semester begins Aug. 24.

“Certainly it’s taken time and effort on the part of our administration,” Dahle said. “This is a challenging time that we have never seen before, at least in our lifetime.”

The letter also included the following information, presented here in an abbreviated format:

  • For more information about testing, visit Guidesafe.org. Questions about testing should be sent to covid@montevallo.edu. Student-athletes should contact Jasmine Thomas at jthoma20@montevallo.edu. Students who are under the age of 19 and live outside of Alabama, students who live in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island or Maryland, or any student with special circumstances related to testing should contact covid@montevallo.edu.
  • Students should check their UM email regularly, including their spam folder, for an important email from GuideSafe Testing or Stay Safe Together Testing that will include full details regarding testing protocols for all students.
  • Before returning to campus, students may access a basic safety and awareness course in Canvas by visiting Montevallo.instructure.com.
  • Throughout the fall, students will be asked to regularly visit the Falcon Healthcheck website, where they can report symptoms and log potential COVID-19 exposure each day. Healthcheck is part of the Falcon Healthcheck platform, powered by UAB. To access Falcon Healthcheck, visit Healthcheck.staysafetogether.org/107.
  • A video from Student Health Services emphasizing personal responsibility is available at Youtube.com/watch?v=-Mfb9O85NvQ&feature=youtu.be.
  • Students who need to request disability accommodations may do so by contacting Disability Support Services at dss@montevallo.edu or 205-665-6250.

Anyone with additional questions about the University’s plan for Fall 2020 may review a list of FAQs on the University’s Falcon Forward webpage at Montevallo.edu/about-um/marcomm/coronavirus-information/falconforward/.