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Univ. of Alabama System working to provide America’s safest campuses following COVID-19 outbreak

The University of Alabama System on Tuesday announced the creation of a task force led by UAB Health System experts to develop plans for the System’s three campuses to be the safest universities in America when on-campus instruction resumes following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

According to a release, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John has appointed Dr. Selwyn Vickers, dean of the UAB School of Medicine, and Katie Osburne, director of risk & compliance/system counsel, to lead this effort.

The task force will reportedly consider testing measures, enhanced cleaning, classroom procedures, housing policies, security and wellness programs, and the provision of personal protective equipment in developing a comprehensive plan to protect students, faculty and staff.

The System’s three distinct campuses are the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). Semesters are being completed via online instruction across all three campuses for the spring, and summer terms may experience the same fate.

St. John stated, “Our trustees expect us to use every resource available in the System for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff. We are fortunate that the scientists, doctors and staff at UAB are on the leading edge of efforts to resolve this health crisis. While it remains uncertain when students, faculty and staff will resume normal activities, no one is better positioned to develop a plan for the health and safety of our campuses than these world-class experts.”

Other task force members include:

• Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director, Division of Infectious Diseases, UAB Medicine;
• Dr. Craig J. Hoesley, senior associate dean, Medical Education, UAB School of Medicine;
• Edward Crump, senior director, Environmental Services, UAB Hospital; and
• Student health, academic and student life administrators from the three campuses.

Marrazzo is an internationally renowned expert in infectious diseases and has appeared frequently on national news as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded. Hoesley oversees all undergraduate and graduate medical education programs at UAB and is also a highly accomplished infectious disease researcher. Crump supervises all efforts to ensure that the stringent sanitary measures required at the 5.5 million square foot UAB Hospital are maintained daily.

Plans will be developed and announced using all available research and data prior to reopening the three campuses.

It should also be noted that once the task force has completed its work, the UA System will make the plans available to other two- and four-year colleges and universities.

RELATED: UAB among first in the U.S. to offer clinical trial for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 using nitric oxide

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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