UAB and UAB Medicine COVID-19 Update: Plans and Safety Strategies Tuesday, July 28 at 1:00 p.m.

UAB and UAB Medicine faculty and staff,

This is a stressful, uncertain time, yet the UAB community’s resilience continues to sustain our mission while keeping health and safety our top priority. Thank you for all you do. Our gradual campus re-entry is going well, with clinical and research activity largely back to pre-COVID levels.

We have employed an extensive combination of safety protocols and resources that — together — minimize risk, and we continue to implement even more strategies to enhance safety, like expanded COVID-19 testing and the anonymous exposure notification app coming soon.

Safety requirements developed in partnership with the UA System will be strictly enforced, and with cooperation from our students, faculty and staff, we expect these strategies to continue to be effective. The ongoing #UABUnited campaign encourages proper behaviors for the greater good, and non-compliance with safety protocols can be anonymously reported.

The spread of COVID-19 in our community is of great concern, and we continue to work with our infectious disease and public health experts to assess the level of risk in on-site activity relative to our safety strategies. COVID-19 Incident Command teams are active for both the university and UAB Medicine, continually evaluating operational plans and monitoring relevant data — including local and big-picture COVID-19 trends, compliance with safety protocols, status of COVID-19 entry and sentinel testing results, and other key metrics.

This remains a fluid situation. While the university and UAB Medicine continue to move forward with current plans, we also have contingency plans. If at any point our current plans become unsustainable due to the status of the pandemic, the university and UAB Medicine will make data-driven decisions based on our capacity, pivot and communicate changes with as much prior notice as possible.

To review current plans and the extensive battery of safety protocols and resources in place and in development, university employees can access uab.edu/coronavirus and the re-entry plan web site (an update of this site to enhance user experience is in the works), as well as this quick-reference safety overview one-pager. UAB Medicine’s employees can access current COVID-19 information on ONE.

For answers to many frequently asked questions, access our July 8 Faculty Town Hall and the July 13 Employee Town Hall (including “More of Your Questions Answered” updated July 23). Additional town halls are upcoming:

#UABUnited,
Ray L. Watts, President
Reid Jones, CEO UAB Medicine
Pam Benoit, Provost

UAB Student COVID-19 Update: Plans and Safety Strategies Tuesday, July 28 at 1:00 p.m.

UAB students,

This is a stressful, uncertain time, yet the UAB community’s resilience continues to sustain our mission while keeping health and safety our top priority. Our gradual campus re-entry is going well, with clinical and research activity largely back to pre-COVID levels.

We have employed an extensive combination of safety protocols and resources that — together — minimize risk, and we continue to implement even more strategies to enhance safety that will be in place before the start of the fall semester. For example, the anonymous exposure notification app we’ve been developing in partnership with the Alabama Department of Public Health, Apple and Google will be available for you to download soon.

Safety requirements developed in partnership with the UA System will be strictly enforced, and with cooperation from our students, faculty and staff, we expect these strategies to continue to be effective. The ongoing #UABUnited campaign encourages proper behaviors for the greater good, and non-compliance with safety protocols can be anonymously reported.

We are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in our communities relative to our plans for the fall, and we continue to work with our infectious disease and public health experts to assess the level of risk in on-site activity relative to our safety strategies. A COVID-19 Incident Command Committee has been established to continually monitor relevant data — including local and big-picture COVID-19 trends, on-campus compliance with safety protocols, status of COVID-19 entry and sentinel testing results, and other key metrics.

This remains a fluid situation. While the university continues to move forward with current plans, we also have contingency plans. If at any point our current plans become unsustainable due to the status of the pandemic, the university will make data-driven decisions based on our capacity, pivot and communicate changes with as much prior notice as possible.

To review current plans and the extensive battery of safety protocols and resources in place and in development, visit uab.edu/coronavirus and the re-entry plan web site (an update of this site to enhance user experience is in the works), as well as this quick-reference safety overview one-pager.

We will continue to provide regular updates. Please monitor your emails and read official university communications, including Greenmail every Wednesday.

You can attend our next virtual town hall for students and families on August 12, 6-7 p.m. Access the recent Incoming Undergraduate Student Town Hall, Returning Undergraduate Student Town Hall and Graduate Student Town Hall online.

#UABUnited,
Ray L. Watts, President
Pam Benoit, Provost and Senior Vice President
John Jones, Vice President for Student Affairs

Childcare and School Survey for UAB and UAB Medicine Faculty/Staff Friday, July 24 at 1:00 p.m.

UAB and UAB Medicine faculty and staff,

We want to acknowledge that many of you are grappling with significant uncertainty related to your family’s childcare and school plans as we move into the fall. As Birmingham City Schools and other local K-12 districts announce plans for an all-remote start, we understand that parents and caregivers are faced with limited options and difficult decisions.

At UAB and UAB Medicine, our people are our greatest asset. We care about the wellbeing of you and your family, value your contributions, and recognize that flexibility is critical as we continue to deliver on our missions. We encourage leaders throughout the enterprise to engage with faculty and staff to understand their needs so we can work together in providing guidance in addressing them.

We are updating the list of community-based childcare resources and exploring what other options might be available. We need your help to better understand the scale and scope of this issue. Please complete the survey linked below if you are a primary caregiver for a child who will be enrolled in Kindergarten through 8th grade beginning this school year.

Access the Childcare and School Survey

Despite so many challenges, we know you will continue to provide exceptional patient care, educational opportunities, research breakthroughs, student and infrastructure support, and community service during this unprecedented time. We are grateful for the important work each one of you does, and we want to work with you to find solutions that support you personally as parents and professionally as employees of UAB and UAB Medicine.

Sincerely,

Ray Watts, President
Reid Jones, UAB Medicine CEO
Pam Benoit, Provost and Senior Vice President

UAB Student Campus Entry TestingWednesday, July 22 at 3:30 p.m.

To promote health and safety on campus as part of our comprehensive entry planning, all UAB students coming to campus after August 1 are required to be tested for COVID-19. Students who entered campus prior to that date do not have the same requirement, as they are regularly reporting any coronavirus symptoms via HealthCheck. Free tests will be available through GuideSafe, which is supported by CARES Act funding through the state of Alabama.

Within 14 days prior to coming to campus, students must undergo testing for the coronavirus. Those who test negative will be cleared for this requirement. Those who test positive must have additional medical clearance from a health care provider and UAB Student Health Services after completing required public health measures. (Note: Students with a positive result will be allowed to participate in remote learning if physically able.)

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 12 weeks, please do not re-test at this time. Instead, provide UAB Student Health Services a copy of your results and health care provider clearance documentation via the secure patient portal. You can access your portal on the Student Health Services website with you Blazer ID and password; select the “Messages” tab and then upload your documentation to “Coronavirus Lab Results.” Your information will be reviewed, and you will be notified via the portal once clearance is confirmed.

Students required to participate in entry testing will receive an email soon from “GuideSafe Entry Testing” (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) about accessing your COVID-19 test. Please look for and promptly complete the instructions in the email. The test involves a nasal swap just inside the nostril, which is easy to self-administer and less invasive than the nasopharyngeal swap you may have seen as another sample collection method.

Our ability to test students entering campus this fall will go a long way in helping us maintain a safe environment. On our campus, testing will supplement other strategies including face coverings, physical distancing, daily symptom and exposure reporting and enhanced safety measures.

If you have questions about testing and any exemptions, more information is available here.

UAB and UAB Medicine Update: Faculty and Staff COVID-19 Testing Wednesday, July 22 at 3 p.m.

UAB and UAB Medicine faculty and staff,

We continue building on our efforts to maintain a safe campus throughout our gradual campus entry plan in partnership with the UA System. Among other strategies, COVID-19 testing is being used in consultation with infectious disease and public health experts.

Sentinel Testing

UAB has begun COVID-19 sentinel testing — a process that tests a percentage of our population each week — for students, faculty and staff. Sentinel testing is voluntary but highly encouraged. If you receive an invitation, your participation is important to help us promote a safe environment. Sentinel testing is a self-administered nostril swab, not the invasive nasopharyngeal swab.

Campus Entry Testing

Campus entry testing varies from students and university and UAB Medicine employees:

Student Campus Entry Testing

Students returning to campus after August 1 will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test to enter campus for the fall semester. Detailed instructions will be provided. Compliance with these instructions is mandatory to enter campus for the fall semester.

University Faculty and Staff Campus Entry Testing

COVID-19 campus entry testing will be offered to faculty and university staff returning to campus in August, but it is not required. Campus entry testing is a self-administered nostril swab, not the nasopharyngeal swab. Please read the following guidance:

  • Any faculty or staff with or without COVID-19 symptoms are asked to complete UAB Healthcheck and follow instructions for next steps, including for testing (access Healthcheck on the re-entry website, my.uab.edu or the UAB app).
  • University faculty and staff without COVID-19 symptoms who are returning to campus in August and would like to be tested (not required) will receive instructions at a later time on how to access this testing.
  • University faculty and staff who are working remotely will not participate in this campus entry testing and are not included in the randomized list for sentinel testing.
  • University faculty and staff who are already on campus (prior to August) and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms are included in the sentinel testing process and will not participate in campus entry testing.

UAB Medicine Employees Entry Testing

Please review the following testing guidelines for UAB Medicine employees:

  • UAB Medicine employees with or without COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to complete UAB Healthcheck and follow instructions for next steps, including for testing (access Healthcheck on the re-entry website).
  • UAB Medicine employees who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must complete the mandatory Employee Health Symptom and Exposure form available here or on oneuabmedicine.org/coronavirus.
  • UAB Medicine employees who are already working on campus and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms are included in the sentinel testing process and will not participate in campus entry testing.
  • UAB Medicine employees who are working remotely may be included in the randomized selection for sentinel testing. Participation is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged.

We continue to monitor the pandemic and will communicate updates to plans, resources and guidance. Please read eReporter every Tuesday and Friday, and visit uab.edu/coronavirus, uab.edu/reentry, and www.oneuabmedicine.org/coronavirus for updates and information. You can also access our July 8 Faculty Town Hall and the July 13 Employee Town Hall for answers to many frequently asked questions. Additional town halls are upcoming:

  • Faculty/Instructor Town Hall: Friday, Aug. 7, 12-1 p.m.
  • Students/Family Town Hall: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 6-7 p.m.
  • Employee Town Hall: Friday, Aug. 14, 12-1 p.m.

#UABUnited,
Ray L. Watts, President
Reid Jones, CEO UAB Medicine
Pam Benoit, Provost

Update Regarding International Students Friday, June 10 at 3 p.m.

Dear UAB students, faculty and staff:

As you may have heard, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced on Monday that F-1 international students who are enrolled in schools that switch exclusively to online risk violating their F-1 immigration status and need to leave the US or transfer to an institution that provides in-person instruction. This is an unexpected change to earlier guidance issued in the Spring, when SEVP allowed F-1 international students to take all spring and summer 2020 courses online while remaining in the United States during the pandemic.

We understand this news is concerning. Our international students are an invaluable part of the UAB community. We remain committed to supporting them in their educational and research contributions to our community.

UAB, like institutions all over the country, are seeking more clarification as they move forward with Fall 2020 planning. SEVP’s announcement also addressed the ability of F-1 students to attend schools that are adopting a hybrid model of instruction. We have evaluated these new regulations and believe at this time that UAB’s hybrid instructional model which provides for a combination of online and in-person instruction for Fall 2020 complies with SEVP’s July 7 guidance for F-1 students and allows these students to remain enrolled in the US. This, however, is a constantly evolving landscape, and we will provide updates as soon as possible if and when new guidance emerges.

For more information, please visit the ISSS website (found here) which contains additional guidance and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Pam Benoit
Senior Vice President and Provost

Catherine Crowe
Director, International Student and Scholar Services

David Hoffman
Executive Director, INTO-UAB

Expense Reduction Strategy Updates Friday, June 10 at 8:30 a.m.

UAB and UAB Medicine faculty and staff,

On May 4, the university and UAB Medicine/Health System announced expense reduction strategies to address budget shortfalls for their separate lines of business due to COVID 19. These actions were necessary to protect the institution and our employees as we assessed the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Throughout this extremely challenging time, the UAB family has shown great resilience in the face of disruption and stress to deliver on our vital mission pillars. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.

Please read the following important updates regarding changes to the expense reduction strategies implemented by UAB Medicine/Health System-managed entities and the university in conjunction with the University of Alabama System.

UAB Medicine Update

To protect jobs as much as possible during COVID-19 financial uncertainty, UAB Medicine announced tiered salary reductions in May for clinical faculty and staff in Workgroup C (check your workgroup) making more than $31,200/year. It was anticipated that these reductions would last through the remainder of 2020.

The financial outlook has improved. In addition to receiving federal and state support, UAB Medicine has also seen faster-than-expected returns to near pre-COVID patient volumes. This increase in volume has been driven by our dedicated faculty and staff. Our financial stability was recently bolstered by our strategic alliance with Ascension St. Vincent’s.

We promised that, if we were able, UAB Medicine would restore compensation and possibly return the lost wages.

  • Retroactive to July 1, we will restore the compensation to pre-salary-reduction levels for UAB Medicine faculty and staff who received a reduction.
  • We will reimburse faculty and staff for the salary reductions between May and July 1. The restoration is for all staff except the CEO and his direct reports and senior leaders (approximately 140 people). Because compensation plans are varied, faculty compensation restoration plans will be coordinated by the HSF Clinical Departments. The payment of this back compensation will occur sometime in late August due to the required time to process the payroll activity.
  • At this time, the employer match/contribution to voluntary 403(b) retirement plans remains suspended. A decision on the retirement contribution reductions will not be made until the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) and will be made in consultation with the UA System.

We appreciate the dedication of our health care heroes who have stepped up in the face of great challenges, and we are pleased to be able to reinstate their compensation.

University Update

The university projected a smaller budget shortfall in May than did the UAB Medicine/Health System. As a result, the university did not implement widespread faculty and staff salary reductions as did UAB Medicine/Health System-managed entities. University senior leadership took a voluntary pay cut, and those reductions will remain in place through the end of the ongoing furlough period.

At this time, roughly 300 university staff in Workgroup A (check your workgroup) remain on an unpaid leave furlough status. Based on current financial projections, the furlough period will go through July 31 and end as scheduled.

Furloughed employees set to resume work will receive instructions from their supervisors in the coming days. Furloughed employees will resume work in either an on-campus or remote capacity, depending on the details of their unit’s operational plan for re entry. Employees are expected to remain productive, and some may have typical job duties adjusted based on unit-specific needs.

We ask that supervisors make staffing plans that allow for flexibility as required as furloughed employees transition back to working. For instance, there may be child care or other considerations that require temporary special considerations relative to remote or on-campus work schedules.

If a supervisor has a business need to reinstate a furloughed employee before the end of the furlough period, they are encouraged to complete the Furloughed Employee Return to Work Form.

At this time, the employer match/contribution to voluntary 403(b) retirement plans remains suspended. A decision on the retirement contribution reductions will not be made until the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) and will be made in consultation with the UA System.

We sincerely appreciate the dedication our faculty and staff have demonstrated to fulfilling our mission and to each other during this difficult time. The pandemic continues to pose challenges, and uncertainties remain. COVID-19 increases could jeopardize our operations and financial health. Please support our continued recovery by being an example to others and wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene. We all need to do our part to avoid taking steps back.

Please utilize resources like the Benevolent Fund’s Employee Emergency Assistance program or Blazer Kitchen, if needed. Faculty and staff who want to support colleagues who are struggling financially are encouraged to please give to the UAB Benevolent Fund.

Sincerely,

Ray L. Watts
President, UAB

Reid Jones
CEO, UAB Medicine

COVID-19 sentinel testing Thursday, July 2 at 3:30 p.m.

UAB students, faculty and staff,

As we continue in partnership with the UA System to implement our phased approach to gradually unite on campus, UAB and UAB Medicine strive to be the safest campus in America and keep health and safety our top priority. Among many other strategies, we are adopting sentinel testing as an additional layer to minimize risk and support a continued re-entry.

The sentinel testing system collects information useful for monitoring trends in diseases and pathogens. We plan to test between 2.5% to 5% of the on-campus population weekly to detect how COVID-19 may be circulating among our asymptomatic population. The test will be a self-administered swab of the nostril. Click here for additional information and frequently asked questions about sentinel testing.

This random sentinel COVID-19 testing of those who have returned to campus will begin the week of July 6. Those selected for testing will receive an email on the Sunday of the week they are to be tested, with instructions on how and where to get tested.

Submitting to sentinel testing is voluntary. Your choice to participate or not will in no way impact your employment or your status as a student. Nevertheless, we hope that you will participate and help us in the fight against this virus. Sentinel testing will supplement mandatory COVID-19 testing for returning students through the Testing for Alabama program announced on June 29. Additional testing strategies for employees are being explored.

Students, please continue to read the Greenmail e-newsletter every Wednesday for important announcements and details about reentry. Faculty and staff, please continue to read eReporter, and UAB Medicine employees also read ONE. For more information on UAB’s re-entry to campus, visit uab.edu/reentry.

#UABUnited,
Ray L. Watts, UAB President
Will Ferniany, UAB Health System CEO

COVID-19 testing for students this fall Monday, June 29 at 10 a.m.

UAB students, faculty and staff,

To promote health and safety on campus as part of our comprehensive reentry planning, all UAB students returning for the fall semester will receive a free COVID-19 test, supported by CARES Act funding through the State of Alabama. Throughout the semester, random, voluntary sentinel testing will be provided to some students to help identify trends and potential problem areas.

In partnership with the University of Alabama System, UAB has led an effort with the State of Alabama to create the Testing for Alabama program. Through the program, all students of two- and four-year higher education institutions can receive a free COVID-19 reentry test. Read the announcement at UAB news online.

Protocols for how testing will be administered are being developed. We anticipate the test will likely be either a swab in the nostril — though not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab — or an oral saline gargle test that we currently have under development.

Our ability to test every student returning to campus will go a long way in helping us maintain a safe environment. We are excited that, through our partnership with Governor Kay Ivey and the State Department of Health, we can have a broader impact in our state by helping make testing available to public colleges and universities throughout Alabama.

On our campus, testing will supplement other strategies to maintain a safe environment, like the Stay Safe Together™ platform that includes our COVID assessment healthcheck symptom monitoring tool. UAB is also developing a voluntary exposure notification app powered by Apple and Google that we look forward to rolling out in the coming weeks.

In addition to COVID-19 testing for students through Testing for Alabama, a sentinel testing system for on-campus faculty and staff was piloted in June and will be implemented broadly starting on July 8. Additional testing strategies for employees are being explored.

Updates will be communicated to students through the Greenmail newsletter, and to faculty and staff in eReporter.

#UABUnited,
Ray L. Watts, President
Pam Benoit, Senior VP and Provost

Safety compliance and reporting Friday, June 26 at 9 a.m.

UAB students, faculty and staff,

As UAB continues our phased, gradual reentry to campus, we want to assure you that our COVID-19 safety protocols, based on the input of infectious disease and public health experts, will be enforced to help promote the health of our community and the continuity of our mission.

We know that creating and maintaining a culture of safety will require awareness, vigilance, monitoring, effective structures for reporting concerns and corrective action for non-compliance.

We need to be united for our common good, and each of us has a role to play.

UAB’s Reentry Expectations and Guidelines are posted online at uab.edu/reentry, as are Personal Safety Practices. Everyone who returns to campus is expected to comply fully with these safety protocols and any specialized guidance from their particular departments/units/schools. We also ask that — to protect the UAB family and our broader community — you practice safety guidelines when you are off campus.

If you observe that health and safety rules are not being observed or enforced on campus, discuss your concerns with your supervisor. If non-compliance persists, you may contact Human Resources or report it anonymously through the UAB Ethics Hotline. Anyone who reports non-compliance is protected against retaliation, and concerns of retaliation should be reported to Human Resources or the Office of Compliance and Risk Assurance.

Persistent failure or willful disregard for health and safety protocols by any employee or student will result in consequences consistent with UAB’s discipline policies for staff, faculty and students.

We are committed to preserving the health of the communities in which we live, learn and work, and the safety precautions we have adopted and will continue to adopt to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic apply to everyone equally. By observing them, we are confident we can continue to teach and learn, research, support Alabama’s social and economic needs, and deliver vital patient care.

Students, please continue to read the Greenmail e-newsletter every Wednesday for important announcements and details about reentry. Faculty and staff, please continue to read eReporter, and UAB Medicine employees also read ONE. Employees or others who want to keep up with student communications, sign up to receive Greenmail and visit the student sections of uab.edu/coronavirus and uab.edu/reentry.

#UABUnited,

Ray L. Watts
UAB President

Will Ferniany
UAB Health System CEO

Fall Semester Schedule Tuesday, June 16 at 2:30 p.m.

UAB students, faculty and staff,

Our gradual re-entry to campus continues and is going well, as is our planning with the University of Alabama System for a safe return this fall with a hybrid model – a course delivery system which, because of social distancing precautions, requires a combination of both in-person instruction and remote instruction. To promote the health and safety of the campus community, adjustments have been made to the fall semester schedule:

  • Fall semester hybrid classes will start Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
  • Fall semester hybrid classes will end Friday, Nov. 20, for the Thanksgiving break.
  • Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break.
  • Exceptions can be granted for students based on work, research or clinical responsibilities, and accommodations can be requested for international students or others who do not have alternate living arrangements.
  • Classes during the week of Nov. 30-Dec. 4, as well as final exams during the week of Dec. 7-11, will be conducted remotely.
    Coursework engagement during these weeks is necessary to accommodate SACSCOC accrediting standard requirements for credit granted for coursework.

Additional information for our phased re-entry to campus (including details about on-campus housing, classroom protocols, personal protective equipment, and COVID-19 training and testing) continue to be worked out and will be communicated in the coming days and weeks. UAB’s e-newsletters are your source of official information. To stay informed of the latest news and updates, students are encouraged read Greenmail each Wednesday, and faculty and staff are encouraged to read eReporter each Tuesday and Friday. We will also continue to update uab.edu/coronavirus and uab.edu/reentry.

In the meantime, please continue to be an example in our community by following important COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Update: Re-entry clarificationFriday, May 22 at 5:30 p.m.

The following applies to the university’s re-entry plan. The Health System is on a separate plan to transition from the Limited Business Model and began resuming clinical operations in early May.

UAB faculty and staff,

Earlier this week, the university announced a gradual, phased approach to campus re-entry detailed at www.uab.edu/reentry.

Phase I, which is set for May 26 through June 15, includes the gradual re-entry of some individuals with clinical or research responsibilities. This time period is a window in which individuals approved to return in this phase will begin campus re-entry; not everyone in Phase I will return May 26.

Before individuals in Phase I (or any future phase) re-enter campus, several steps must be completed:

  1. Supervisors will draft a unit-specific operational re-entry plan and submit it for approval.
  2. Subsequently, you will receive an email from Campus Learning (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; emails from this address are not spam).
  3. When you receive the email from the learning management system, follow the prompts and complete required training.
  4. After you complete the COVID-19: Basic Safety and Awareness Course, you will be prompted to complete UAB HealthCheck, the UAB-specific COVID-19 Assessment Tool for self-reporting symptoms and exposure.
  5. After you complete the required training and health check, your supervisor will be notified that you are approved to return to campus.

No one is permitted to return to campus until they have completed these steps and have clearance for re-entry from their supervisor. When you return, you must follow all safety guidelines. You should not initiate training modules until you receive prompts from Campus Learning by email. This is to verify that UAB personnel have completed their training.

Re-entry checklists are available to guide students, faculty and staff as they prepare for their return to campus and when they are on campus.

At this time, not everyone will know into which re-entry phase they fit and when they will be approved to return. Contact your supervisor with questions about your phase. We will continue to support units in the development of their required operational plans so updates can be provided.

Please be on the lookout for emails from Human Resources (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Campus Learning (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and follow prompts. Emails are sent from these addresses, but these are not email inboxes; please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

Sincerely,

Alesia Jones
Chief Human Resources Officer

University Gradual Re-entry to CampusMonday, May 18 at 4:30 p.m.

The following announcement describes the university’s re-entry plan. The Health System is on a separate plan to transition from the Limited Business Model and began resuming clinical operations in early May.

On Tuesday, May 26, UAB will transition from the university’s Limited Business Model into Modified Business Operations. During Modified Business Operations, UAB will begin a gradual, phased approach with some groups/functions returning to campus before others.

It is important to gradually bring individuals back on campus to promote social distancing. This phased approach will also allow us to evaluate strategies for effectiveness and minimize risk.

Only *students, faculty and staff who are part of an approved unit operational plan will be permitted to return to campus during this phase and will be responsible for strictly following safety guidelines and requirements in place to minimize potential risk. Clinical and research personnel will be the first to return to campus following the approval of units’ operational plans.

*Students: Students in clinical areas must receive approval from their program to return to campus. Researchers at post-doctoral and graduate/pre-doctoral levels may continue or initiate studies on site following approved unit operational plans to ensure the safe return to campus. Other trainees engaged in research, such as undergraduate students and volunteers, must request approval through the Office of Research exception process.

UAB is fortunate to have extensive expertise in several disciplines that was utilized on UAB and University of Alabama System task forces to craft well-informed re-entry strategies guided by five principles:

  1. Preserve the health of our university community and Birmingham.
  2. Maintain and deliver on our education, research and community engagement by continuing to recruit and enroll students, teach those students, conduct research, and help stimulate the Alabama economy.
  3. Preserve and maintain university operations necessary to support mission-critical activities, both now and into the future.
  4. Treat students and employees fairly and equitably.
  5. Remain fiscally solvent now and into the future so as to be able to deliver on mission-critical activities for the long term.

Detailed plans and guidance to minimize risk and promote quality outcomes across all mission pillars are available at uab.edu/reentry and cover many areas:

  • Required web-based training (as soon as available; in development)
  • Symptom and exposure tracking and contact tracing (as soon as available; in development)
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Guidance for high-risk individuals
  • Phased staffing plans and staffing options
  • Personal protective equipment (including masks/face coverings, gloves, etc.)
  • Social distancing
  • Hygiene (handwashing, hand sanitizers, cough/sneeze etiquette)
  • Public transportation/Blazer Express
  • Enhanced environmental health and cleaning procedures
  • Protocols in offices, reception areas, elevators, labs, classrooms, outdoor areas, etc.
  • Mental and emotional well-being
  • Enter/Exit control

Guidance and requirements are subject to change and will be updated prior to future phases of re-entry, including a return to in-person instruction.

Anticipated Phased Approach Timeline

We anticipate restrictions and limitations in activities will be in place for the next 12 to 18 months. After evaluating several factors, including the trending numbers of new COVID-19 cases in our community, our testing capability and availability, our ability to monitor the spread of the virus in the campus community, the adequacy of community health care resources, current supply levels of personal protective equipment, and applicable federal, state and local directives, we developed the following color code system to coordinate and integrate operational procedures across UAB.

The active color code will be determined based upon state, local or UA System restrictions and conditions. Changes in the prevailing code will be announced by UAB leadership in response to the changing circumstances. Each level defines a different set of work criteria rules and regulations and operational plans.

RED

Access Severely Limited
(maintenance only, no research or academic activity)

YELLOW

Modified Business Operations
(26% - 74% capacity)

ORANGE

Limited Business Operations
(0% - 25% capacity)

GREEN

Full Access; Limited Public Health Restrictions
(75% - 100% capacity)

Orange
  • Limited business operations with essential services only
  • Remote learning
  • Suspension of on-campus events and activities
Yellow
  • Continuation of essential services and research support
  • Resumption of research activities as operational plans are approved
  • Clinic openings with operational plans and restricted personnel approved
  • Resumption of student clinical experiences following operational plans after approval
  • Critical administrative, business operations, academic, student affairs as communicated from university/school leadership based on approved operational plans; this is a fluid situation, and employees should check with their supervisor for guidance
  • Staggered return to campus of faculty and staff to prepare for resumption of modified fall return
  • All returns to campus will be based on on-site needs and approved operational plans
  • Athletes (depending on guidance from the conference)
  • Some faculty, staff and students continue to work remotely
  • Students return in accordance with approved/sanctioned activities (e.g., athletics, scheduled residence hall move-in, start of class) and in compliance with all safety protocols (e.g., mandatory training, health check, testing)
Green
  • Faculty, staff and students work on campus

The COVID-19 pandemic is a dynamic situation that continues to evolve, and our response will inevitably evolve as well. We will therefore update these guidelines and the protocols outlined below as necessary to continue to ensure the health and safety of the campus community. As of mid-May, we are working toward implementing guidelines for the Yellow/Modified Business Operations level as research and clinical activities resume.

Productivity in Modified Business Operations

In March, UAB — in partnership with the University of Alabama System — announced a Limited Business Model to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the initial phase of Limited Business, staff in Workgroups A (academic staff) and C (clinical staff) were assigned to one of three sub-groups:

  • Group 1: Needed to continue work in-person
  • Group 2: Needed to continue work but can do so remotely
  • Group 3: Not needed to work during a time of limited business

Note: Workgroup assignments (i.e., A, C, F) can be checked via the UAB Employee Workforce App online. Subgroup assignments (i.e., 1, 2, 3) are determined by an employee’s unit leadership/supervisor.

During the initial eight-week phase of Limited Business, employees — even those who could not work — continued to receive regular compensation while the financial and operational impact of COVID-19 was assessed. As Limited Business was prolonged, we could not continue to pay employees who could not work.

Effective May 10, all staff in Workgroup A Group 3 and a limited number of staff in Workgroup A Group 2 were placed on temporary furlough (May 10-July 31). Furloughed individuals are those who — by the nature of their work — could not do their jobs remotely or who serve in roles for which demand decreased or would decrease to a critical point during the furlough period. Some units exercised discretion and addressed unit-specific budget shortfalls by placing additional staff on furlough status who had worked effectively during the Limited Business model. No UAB Medicine staff in Workgroup C were placed on furlough due to the anticipated return to clinical operations as the hospital and clinics reopen.

As a result of furloughs effective May 10, remaining Workgroup A staff are those who can work effectively during Modified Business Operations according to their supervisor. As such, non-furloughed staff in Workgroup A are expected to maintain a state of full productivity in Modified Business Operations. Employees with questions are encouraged to ask their designated Human Resources representative.

Next Steps

Individuals who have responsibilities described within each of the phases and are anticipated to return to campus, and their supervisors, will be contacted with specific guidance as soon as possible, and updates and information will continue to be added to uab.edu/coronavirus and uab.edu/reentry.