University sign with flowers behind it.

Reopening

This website contains general information for students, parents, employees and other visitors and guests, as well as links to additional information from University departments and offices.

The guiding principle of the University’s reopening plan is to provide as safe an environment as possible for students, faculty and staff.  Since reopening, the University is continually monitoring the health of the campus population and the public health of our region. The campus is poised to move back to remote work and remote instruction if necessary to protect the health of students and employees.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic and unpredictable situation. In order to adapt to this environment and to execute decisions related to its operations, the University of South Alabama has developed a set of parameters that are constantly evaluated. These parameters include Federal, State or local government mandates, the level of regional risk as classified by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests in Mobile county, the healthcare capacity in Mobile and neighboring counties, the number of cases among students and employees at the USA campus, the percentage of positive tests among students and employees, and the University’s ability to provide essential services including quarantine and isolation.

The cumulative assessment of these criteria is routinely utilized in determining the level of activity within the University. This involves multiple operational options which range from regular academic and athletic engagement to the University physical closure with fully remote academic activities.

For additional information about reopening schedules, processes and procedures, please see the information on this page as well as the links, which contain specific information for students, faculty, staff and parents.

The University’s policies and procedures are evolving in response to changing conditions. This website will be updated as new information becomes available. Please check back frequently for updates. If you see errors or omissions on this website, please email marcomm@southalabama.edu with your suggestions. 

▼   Reopening Highlights
  • The University opened with an adjusted academic calendar for the fall 2020 semester. The last day of classes will be Nov. 24, and traditional fall breaks will be eliminated.
  • Most classes are blended, including an online component and some face-to-face instruction with social distancing. For more information on classes and labs, see the Information for students section of this website.
  • All students, faculty and staff are required to complete a health screening form before returning to work, activities or classes on campus, and may be referred for testing if the screening indicates issues or concerns.  In addition, all employees and students regularly coming to campus are required to complete a daily health screening via Jag Healthcheck.
  • The University is implementing health screening, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as needed to maintain the health and safety of campus.
  • All faculty and staff, as well as students attending on-campus classes and activities, are required to complete health and safety education sessions.
  • Face masks are required in most circumstances. Individuals may supply their own masks, and USA provides 2 washable, reusable face masks, free of charge, to every student and employee. Please see the Campus Operating Guidelines section for more details on the Face Mask Requirement.
▼   Key Reopening Dates
 
Date Event
Monday, June 15 Bookstore Opens
Saturday, Aug. 8 Residence Hall Move-in Begins (appointment required)
Sunday, Aug. 9 Fall Semester Meal Plans Begin
Monday, Aug. 17 Fall Classes Begin
Monday, Aug. 17 Student Center Food Court Opens
Tuesday, Nov. 24 Fall Classes Conclude
Tuesday, Dec. 1 – Friday, Dec. 4 Online Final Exams
▼   Campus Operating Guidelines

The University is taking actions to mitigate the risk of transmission of infection. These include:

  • Screening the university population for the risk of COVID-19 infections prior to re-opening, testing as indicated, isolation of students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 or are pending testing or receipt of test results, contact tracing, and encouraging or requiring flu shots, as appropriate, to mitigate the impact of influenza on the local health care system.
  • All members of the University community are required to comply with social distancing guidelines that will be posted in each building and facility.
  • Face masks are required to be worn by all students, faculty, staff and visitors in group settings such as classrooms, labs and all public areas of campus buildings and facilities, including offices. Masks are required in common areas, including the Student Center, the Student Recreation Center, dining facilities, and common areas of residence halls such as study rooms and laundry rooms. Masks are required when riding the JagTran.
  • Face masks are not required in residence hall rooms when only room residents are present. Face masks are not required when outside University buildings (i.e. sitting outside, exercising outside, walking to and from classes) if following social distancing protocols. Employees with private offices (i.e. individual offices with a door) are not required to wear face masks when alone in their offices.
  • Neck gaiters are not considered an acceptable form of masking.
  • Vendors and visitors to campus are expected to abide by the same procedures and requirements as members of the University community. Offices and departments inviting guests and/or vendors on campus are required to communicate the requirements to these visitors before they arrive.

For additional information, please refer to the Human Resources Reentry Expectations and Guidelines website.

▼   Face Mask Requirement
▼   Are face masks required?

Wearing a mask has been shown to slow the spread of COVID-19. By not wearing a mask, you are potentially endangering the health of others. Analysis of the COVID-19 virus shows that it can be spread by those who are not showing symptoms.

  • Face masks are required to be worn in all indoor spaces, such as classrooms, labs and all inside public areas of campus buildings and facilities, including the Student Center, dining facilities, and common areas of residence halls such as study rooms and laundry rooms.
  • Face masks are required in any situation where social distancing practices (6 feet of separation) cannot be maintained.
  • Face masks are required when riding JagTran buses.
  • Face masks are not required in residence hall rooms unless non-resident guests are present.
  • Face masks are not required outside of University buildings (i.e. sitting outside, exercising outside, walking to and from classes) provided that social distancing of 6 feet is maintained.
  • Employees who are alone in private offices (individual offices with a door) or in laboratories are not required to wear face masks.
▼   What is an “approved” face mask?

Any mask distributed by the University, any cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth, or any commercially available medical grade face mask. Neck gaiters are not considered an acceptable form of masking.

▼   How can I get a mask?

You may supply your own mask, and in addition the University will provide two masks, free of charge, to each student and employee. For information regarding mask pickup, students may contact the Office of Student Affairs and employees may contact Human Resources.

▼   How should I wear and take off my face mask?

The following recommendations are published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To put on and wear your face mask:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face mask.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.
  • Keep you mask on your face the entire time you’re in public.
  • Don’t put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead.
  • Don’t touch the face mask, and, if you do, wash your hands.

To remove your face mask:

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
  • Fold outside corners together.
  • Place covering in the washing machine.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing.
▼   What are the consequences of not wearing a mask?
Wearing a mask has been shown to slow the spread of COVID-19. By not wearing a mask, you are potentially endangering the health of others. Analysis of the COVID-19 virus shows that it can be spread by those who are not showing symptoms. To protect the health and safety of our entire campus community, the masking guidelines outlined on this website are required of all members of the University community. Students not following these requirements may be referred to the student disciplinary process. Employees not following these requirements will be subject to disciplinary action by their supervisor or Human Resources.
▼   Does the University allow any exceptions or exemptions from the masking requirement?

Students who wish to request a reasonable accommodation to the masking requirement based upon a legally protected status should contact the Office of Student Disability Services. Employee requests for reasonable accommodation should be directed to the Office of Human Resources. In limited circumstances, the University may also allow exceptions to this policy when wearing a mask is not deemed necessary by the University. In such circumstances, the University will clearly communicate the exception to those impacted.

 

▼   Policy on University Events
 

Until further notice and pursuant to CDC recommendations, in-person University events will remain cancelled until such time as the CDC indicates that the community spread of COVID-19 has decreased to an appropriate level. This applies to all social gatherings and ceremonies. This policy does not apply to classroom instruction.

Necessary in-person meetings, including interviews, should be limited to no more than 10 people. Individuals participating in such meetings will be required to adhere to the CDC guidelines on social distancing, wearing masks and other precautionary measures. If the meeting includes food, the food should be boxed.

This policy will be regularly reviewed and may be modified by the University Committee for Reopening Campus depending on the trajectory of the pandemic.

▼   Policy on Visitors

To control the risks of COVID-19 exposure to University employees, the University Committee for Reopening Campus has determined that, until further notice, no visitors or invited guests are allowed in buildings on the main campus. This does not include contractors and vendors who are required to be on campus to fulfill their obligations. Any other exceptions to this policy must be approved by a divisional Vice President. This requirement will remain in place until further notice from the Committee.

Approved visitors to the University main campus will complete the USA Guest COVID-19 Screening and display their clearance upon arrival to campus. If the visitor indicates symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to individuals who are positive, access to campus is denied and further instructions are provided.

▼   Frequently Asked Questions
 

This list of Frequently Asked Questions is designed to answer general questions about reopening processes and procedures. For more detailed information, please refer to the websites and FAQs for students, faculty, staff, and parents.

▼   What factors were considered in the decision to reopen campus?

In making the decision to reopen and operate the campus, University leadership relied upon information from authoritative sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Alabama Department of Public Health, as well as the leadership of the USA Health system. The criteria for reopening campus were based upon the ability of the University to implement best practices for the safety and health of the University community, and to continually monitor the community for potential outbreaks of COVID-19. The University has implemented widespread procedures that are designed to protect the health and safety of our community, as well as processes designed to monitor and respond to any cases of COVID-19 on campus.

▼   How are in-person classes conducted?

In almost all cases, classes are delivered either in a web-blended (hybrid) model or fully online. For web-blended courses, some portion of the courses is generally offered face-to-face, adhering to social distancing guidelines. Small classes (with low enrollment relative to classroom size) that allow for social distancing may be held fully face-to-face. Other classes are reconfigured to reduce density and allow for social distancing.

▼   What is the protocol if there is a COVID-19 surge during the academic year? Is there a plan to move classes online in the event of a significant outbreak?

The University is continually monitoring the health of the campus population and the public health of our region. The campus is poised to move back to remote work, if conditions warrant, to protect the health of students and employees. In this event, faculty will be prepared to quickly move all courses online and students will be able to complete coursework online.

▼   How can I get tested for COVID-19?

Students who have been exposed or are symptomatic for COVID-19, or indicate areas of concern, will be referred for testing to their primary care provider or through the Student Health Center.

Faculty and staff who have been exposed or are symptomatic for COVID-19, or indicate areas of concern on Jag Healthcheck may follow up with Employee Health and Wellness at (251) 461-1521 and may be referred for testing to their primary care provider or the USA Health drive-through testing center at the Mobile Civic Center.

▼   Is the University conducting contact tracing?
The University is fortunate to have the resources of the USA Health system, which has implemented a contact tracing program to enable the University to contact individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The University communicates, as appropriate and with the best information available, with members of the USA community who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The University also provides information to the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Mobile County Health Department as required.
▼   How do I know if other students or employees have tested positive for COVID-19? Does the University make announcements about cases?

The University communicates about the COVID-19 situation on campus on a regular basis via emails and USA’s COVID-19 Information website. Individuals who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be notified through contact tracing and asked to self-quarantine and be tested. In compliance with federal and state privacy requirements as well as University policies, the University will only disclose identifying information about individuals or groups who have tested positive for COVID-19 to appropriate health agencies.

Each Monday, the COVID-19 Dashboard is updated to indicate the number of positive cases reported on campus, as well as quarantine room capacity and positivity rate for students tested at Student Health.

▼   Will a flu vaccine be required?

The flu vaccine is required for all USA Health employees and for all students living in on-campus housing, and strongly encouraged for non-resident students. The flu vaccine can keep you and those around you from getting sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reduces the severity of illness for those who get the flu.

The flu vaccine also prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year, reducing the burden on our health care system.

▼   How does the University encourage and support employees and students to stay home when sick?
The University is implementing a communications campaign through regular emails, social media, signage and employee and student education programs to encourage anyone who has been exposed or is symptomatic for COVID-19 to self-quarantine and be tested.
▼   When will alumni events resume?
Alumni events will continue in virtual formats. Plans are under way to begin in-person functions, including at the new MacQueen Alumni Center, as University and Jaguar Athletics events resume. Visit the Office of Alumni Relations for more information.
▼   Will athletic events take place? What about football and tailgating?
The Department of Athletics is working with USA Health to implement recommended health precautions and to monitor mandates, recommendations and best practices. For USA Athletics events, the following processes will be in place:
  • Face masks will be required for attendance.
  • Temperature checks will be conducted at gates.
  • Social distancing strategies will be in place in all facilities.
  • All working personnel will be in masks and gloves .
  • Sanitizing stations will be installed, and staff will continuously sanitize facilities during events.
  • Mobile ticket options will be available and encouraged.

The Department of Athletics will release more information related to events, tickets and attendance guidelines. Please visit the Jaguar Athletics website for information.

▼   What precautions are you using to clean facilities? Are water fountains working or turned off?
Protocols have been developed for the deep cleaning and disinfecting of public spaces and common areas in buildings, including restrooms. The University’s Facilities Management department is required for all USA Health. Water fountains are turned off.
▼   How are you reducing congestion in common areas of buildings?
Departments, where feasible, coordinate start and end times for classes in close proximity of one another to reduce traffic in halls and through common areas. Classes also may be released by row or small group to reduce traffic flow and allow for social distancing. Elevators may be restricted to use only by persons with disabilities, and may be restricted to two passengers at a time. Stairways and hallways may be converted to one-way traffic.
▼   Is JagTran in operation, and, if so, what social distancing measures are required?
The JagTran system is in operation, although capacity is limited and riders should leave extra time for their trips in case capacity is reached. Students and operators are required to wear masks while on JagTran. Vehicles are regularly sanitized, and riders must follow posted rules.
▼   Where can I get more information on COVID-19?

University information on the novel coronavirus can be found on its Coronavirus Updates website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health also are updating their sites with useful information.

If you have questions regarding our response to COVID-19, you may contact the COVID-19 Response Office at covid19@southalabama.edu or (251)461-1590.

 

▼   Resources and Training
 

Employees and students are required to complete training regarding various issues related to COVID-19. Such training is electronic, where possible, and alternative methods have been established for employees who do not have access to computers. This training will include hygiene, social distancing, and other infection-control issues.

The Division of Student Affairs has set up communication with students about training resources and requirements via email and through the Canvas platform. The Canvas platform is utilized by USA students for their online classes..

The Office of Human Resources has provided educational and awareness materials to employees and departments. This will offer general guidance on maintaining a safe workplace with respect to infection control and hygiene as well as specific guidance related to COVID-19.  Training must be completed within a reasonable time of returning to campus in order for the employee to remain on campus.

▼   Hand Sanitizer and Protective Supplies
 
The Facilities Management office installs, maintains and restocks new hand sanitizing stations in public areas of campus and regularly deep cleans and sanitize common areas of buildings and offices.
 
The University provides two washable, reusable face masks, free of charge, to each student and employee.
 

For supplies of hand sanitizer and disinfectant, campus offices and departments should follow the ordering guidelines on the Office of Finance and Administration website.

Offices that need plexiglass/acrylic barriers for reception areas should contact Safety and Environmental Compliance at SafetyandEnv@SouthAlabama.edu.

▼   Signage and Printed Materials

The Office of Marketing and Communications has created a portfolio of standard and customizable signs and social distancing markers, which are shown below.

Offices in need of supplies of this signage for your office or have custom signage needs should contact Publication Services, which will work with you to develop, print and deliver the signage you need.

Floor/Furniture Stickers

Maintain social distance sign

10" round

Blue up arrow

10" square

Up arrow red

10" square

Don't Site Here Sticker

4" square

Wait here sign

10" square

 
 
 

Posters or Clings - 8 1/2" x 11"

Elevator sign
Elevator protocol sign
 
 

Posters - 8 1/2" x 11"

How to prevent spread sign
Weare masks sign
Hand Sanitizer Sign
Temperature screening sign

 

Thank you for social distancing sign
Wash hands Sign
Enter Sign
Exit sign


Stairs to go up sign
Stairs to go down sign
Bottle Filler Sign
Found turned off sign


Use sanitizer after equipment sign
Room Unavailable sign
Social Distancing in Restroom sign
Please do not move or rearrange furniture

 

Face masks are required in this office.
Mask Dos and Don'ts
Face masks are required in this building
Do I need to wear a mask?

 

▼   Reporting Issues or Concerns
Students with specific concerns or questions about COVID-19 may contact the USA OneStop office at OneStop@SouthAlabama.edu. A university representative will respond to your communication as quickly as possible.


Employees with specific concerns or questions about COVID-19 should contact the Office of Human Resources at PandemicHRCampus@SouthAlabama. edu or call (251) 461-1521.

▼   University Committee for Reopening Campus
 

The University Committee for Reopening Campus is composed of representatives from the main campus and USA Health system. The overall guiding principle of this committee’s work is to provide as safe an environment as possible for students, faculty and staff.

The committee continues to work on all aspects of reopening campus in accordance with best practices for health and safety. The members of the committee, along with links to each subcommittee plan, are listed below. Each of these plans are subject to changes and updates as warranted by new decisions and information.

Committee Members

  • Kristin Dukes; General Counsel
  • Benjamin Estrada; Professor and Assistant Dean, College of Medicine
  • Ryan Ferguson; Director of Student Health Services
  • David Johnson; Professor
  • Andi Kent; Interim Provost and Senior Vice President
  • John Marymont; Vice President for Medical Affairs, Dean of College of Medicine
  • John Smith; Executive Vice President
  • Tony Waldrop; President
  • Scott Weldon; Vice President for Finance and Administration

Subcommittee Reports (PDF Documents)

Plans will be added to this site as they are finalized and approved. These plans are subject to revisions and updates as appropriate.

▼   Pandemic Outbreak Response Plan
The University continues to operate under the guidelines of its Pandemic Preparedness Plan.