AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – On the campus of Auburn University, a fall semester unlike any other resumes Monday for nearly 30,000 students, faculty, and staff. The University is taking historic precautions, most notably mandatory testing with contact tracing and mandatory campus masking to contain the spread of COVID-19.
For several weeks students and their families have been moving into AU campus door rooms on a staggered schedule to minimize the massive rush and help families social distance.
“I am just excited to be back on campus and be here with my friends and roommates no matter what the circumstances. We are very careful because we don’t know where others have been. I am just hanging out with my roommates, and we are quarantining, and we have RA’s who are reminding us to wear our masks when we are out or in the hallways or leaving,” shared AU sophomore, Katie Cullen.
Communal living presents a challenge for Auburn University. Dr. Frederick Kam does expect to see spikes of the virus for the semester. AU is prepared to house sick students and quarantine those who have been exposed.
“Two dorms have been set up one for isolation. One dorm is for students who tested positive for COVID to isolate per the CDC guidelines. The other is set up for quarantine for students who are exposed who need to be in quarantine for a period. We have a third backup dorm if needed, so we feel pretty good. Most students are choosing to go home, and that is fine,” said Dr. Kam.
Ten or so students are already isolating, and a dozen or so are in quarantine already. Monday, classes begin with online, in-person, and hybrid offerings for students.
The SEC has yet to announce if AU will have a fall football season.
“If you are asking Fred Kam, personally, I would love to see us have football. As a community, I think we need to have something else to talk about and look forward to,” said Dr. Kam.
Dr. Kam believes the future direction of AU academics and athletics ultimately depends on personal accountability.
“Whether or not we have an outbreak and have to pull back and do all online is depending on one thing and one thing only, and that is personal accountability of students, faculty, and staff wearing masks, hand sanitizing and maintaining social distancing not only on campus but in their personal lives,” shared Dr. Kam.
Meanwhile, as Auburn University prepares for the start of the fall semester amid global pandemic, reminding students of the need to get tested for COVID-19.
Helpful informational signage can be found throughout campus, and other precautions—to include face coverings in all indoor settings, frequent and enhanced cleaning of facilities and plexiglass guards where needed—are key components of the University’s A Healthier U reentry plan.
To assess and monitor campus health, all students are required to initiate COVID-19 testing before arriving on campus or shortly after their arrival. Students should visit this link for information, including instructions for setting up an account and scheduling testing. Students should not plan to visit the clinic without an appointment. Those who choose to test at an alternative location may do so, but they will not be reimbursed for the cost of the test.
For more information, students should visit the Student tab of the Frequently Asked Questions on the A Healthier U website, which includes a section focused on COVID-19 testing. Questions also can be submitted to email@example.com.