UM return to campus ‘going smoothly’

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO — The University of Montevallo has welcomed students back to campus for the 2020 Fall Semester, albeit on a staggered schedule that coincided with on-site COVID-19 testing, which concluded on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Going into the final on-campus move-in day on Aug. 21, the University had 1,030 students assigned to live in residence halls, down slightly from last fall when approximately 1,200 lived in campus residence halls. The remainder of UM’s enrollment of about 2,500 students are living off-campus.

Currently, only 1.1 percent of student COVID-19 tests reported have been positive, according to the UM website as of Aug. 25. Any student who receives a positive test result is required to self-isolate.

“Everything has been going smoothly on both fronts,” said Neal Wagner, manager, Communications and Media Relations. “The majority of students who are living on campus this fall moved back this week on a staggered schedule to allow for enhanced safety and proper social distancing throughout the move-in process.”

Students who opted to take in-person classes or utilize campus facilities during the fall semester were given access to the GuideSafe testing program, which was provided to universities across the state by UAB. Those who had difficulty obtaining results through GuideSafe or via a private medical practitioner were able to participate in the on-campus testing.

“We funded and hosted this on-campus testing as an additional resource to help promote a safe and healthy campus as we enter the fall semester,” Wagner said.

Of course, safety on campus requires vigilance from students, faculty and staff both on and off campus. The University is continuing to ask everyone to take personal responsibility for their health and the health of others by staying home if they are sick, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and healthy habits such as frequent hand washing.

The University is also providing resources like Healthcheck, which is part of the Falcon Healthcheck platform powered by UAB, to help those on campus stay up-to-date on their own health.

“We are encouraging all UM students, faculty and staff to regularly visit the Falcon Healthcheck website, which is a COVID-19 assessment tool serving as a daily reminder to monitor their health and understand how their health can impact those around them,” Wagner said. “Through the site, users are able to report symptoms and log potential COVID-19 exposure each day.”

Despite the cancellation of large, in-person University events for the semester, the return to campus has brought a sense of normalcy that has been sorely missed throughout the summer. While there are unprecedented challenges that come with the return, there is an overall sense of camaraderie among students, faculty and staff, Wagner said.

“Above all, I think everyone is glad to have a chance to return to a sense of normalcy by returning to classes and returning to campus. It’s taken much planning on behalf of countless people over the past few months to get us to this point,” he said.

Up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 testing numbers will be available on the UM website, Montevallo.edu, throughout the semester.