Welcome back to campus and the College of Human Environmental Sciences. We look forward to the renewed energy every new academic year brings and are excited to be putting our reopening plans into action. As we begin our return to campus, I want to outline what our College plans are for the fall semester. As you may have heard, UA began building a strategy months ago for our safe return and they have been working around the clock to adapt our campus to this new normal. Please visit healthinfo.ua.edu frequently for the latest COVID-related news and information.
Our faculty and staff have also been busy all summer adjusting our classes to conform to UA’s safety guidelines. Class sizes will now allow for necessary physical distancing and all students and instructors will be required to wear masks on campus. Many classes will blend in-person instruction with online learning. And all classes will be equipped with webcams for recording or streaming lectures to make sure every student can have full class access. Our lobby areas have also been rearranged to encourage social distancing.
All students, faculty and staff have been required to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to campus and everyone must complete frequent self-health checks in order to remain on campus. Face coverings are required in all UA buildings and wherever social distancing cannot be maintained. But even with all these measures there is something more we need to do. As a public health faculty member as well as dean of the college, I’m asking everyone to make a personal commitment to public health. That means your own health and the health of those around you. And that obligation doesn’t end when you leave the classroom or the office. Your commitment to our collective health and safety is needed 24/7. This is a time we must all work together to keep our campus open and safe for everyone. That may mean making some personal sacrifices of convenience, but together we can do this.
As you come back to campus you will notice that many things are different but nothing that we cannot handle. Together, we will adapt, we will be flexible, and we will learn. UA has never faced anything quite like this but if we are vigilant, patient, and kind to one another we can prevail and have a productive semester. Let’s take a lesson from our college mission which ties together our diverse majors with one common purpose, Improving Lives. Right now is our time to meet the challenges ahead and fulfill that goal. This is our shared moment to make the most of the situation presented to us and in doing so, make history.