By The Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — As many as 265,000 students entering Alabama colleges this fall will be tested for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 under a program announced Monday to help prevent the disease from spreading on two- and four-year campuses.
Under the program, which is being funded with $30 million in federal pandemic relief funding, individual schools will decide whether to require that students be tested. The University of Alabama at Birmingham, which is helping run the effort, said it will require tests for students coming to campus.
UAB President Ray Watts told a virtual news conference that tests will at least be available to students returning to publicly funded campuses, and officials said they hoped it could include private schools as well.
Dr. Selwyn Vickers, dean of UAB’s medical school and chair of a University of Alabama System task force planning how to reopen campuses, said students who test positive will be asked to quarantine for two weeks before reporting to campus.
A percentage of students will be tested throughout the school year even if they are not experiencing symptoms, he said, and schools are being asked to isolate students who test positive during a semester.
“We’re asking each of the institutions to really create an infirmary or a site where students can be both isolated and quarantined during the time period for their recovery from their infection,” he said. Students will be able to report their health status through a phone application.
Alabama is grappling with an increase in positive test results and hospitalizations linked to the coronavirus, which the Alabama Department of Public Health says has killed at least 905 people statewide. More than 36,680 cases have been confirmed statewide.