TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The University of Alabama is preparing for additional isolation housing needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic by moving students from dorm rooms, just weeks into the new semester.
A university spokesperson said the school made efforts to keep roommates together in new housing arrangements, but less than half were able to do so.
“[C]onsolidating space sometimes means students would be moved into the rooms available,” Associate Vice President for Communications Monica Watts said.
In an email sent to the father of a freshman nursing major, UA alerted residents that they must move out of their dorm and into a new dorm assignment by Wednesday evening. UA is providing relocated students with $250 in Bama Cash.
“If they’re having to relocate an entire dorm for COVID quarantine, maybe it’s time to reconsider and go online-only,” Tee Quillin, whose daughter is starting her freshman year, said. “The worst part is they’re not given any guarantee of keeping their roommates. My daughter and her friend went thru the process of requesting each other as roommates. They don’t know if this is their last night together or not. That. Is. Torture.”
On Monday, UA reported 531 confirmed cases of coronavirus among students, faculty and staff. That data is available by clicking here.
The campus’s isolation housing is currently at 19.78% capacity. Questions about the decision-making process moving forward were not immediately answered.
Quillin says his daughter must remain on campus while school is in session because his daughter’s major requires her to take a chemistry lab not offered in an online format.
“Although, it’s funny, if the university is, in fact, shut down, they’ll do that very thing,” Quillin said.
Quillin’s daughter and other freshman student are required to purchase a meal plan which costs upwards of $2,000, despite dining options being curtailed this semester.
“I believe [it] is the right call, but not by forcing them to buy the plan that is essentially worthless to them this year,” he added.
The move to relocate students and prepare more isolation housing comes after a joint press conference Monday with UA President Stuart Bell and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announcing city bars would be forced to close for 14 days.
Last week, the university restricted access to Greek houses and placed a moratorium on student events for 14 days, except for in-person instruction. They also say “escalated consequences” could include suspension if students violate new COVID-19 procedures.
“We appreciate the assistance of these students as we navigate these changes. Their costs will not increase regardless of where they are moved,” Watts added.
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