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University of Alabama sees 1,000 virus cases since reopening

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In this file photo a statue is seen outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium on the campus of the University of Alabama before a game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sept. 22, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Source: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images North America/AFP

The University of Alabama, seen as a test case for returning to in-person learning amid the pandemic, has reported close to a thousand positive coronavirus cases since reopening. The school has published a COVID-19 dashboard which shows a total of 566 positives since last Wednesday when term started, in addition to 400 people who tested positive when arriving.

university of alabama

University of Alabama president Stuart Bell said the surge in cases probably came from the community. Source: Butch Dill/Getty Images/AFP

Local news site AL.com quoted university president Stuart Bell saying the problem did not stem from student behaviour on campus but probably came from the community. “What we have to do is identify where does the virus thrive and where does the virus spread and how can we work together with our students, with our faculty and with our staff to make sure that we minimise those places, those incidents,” he said.

The city of Tuscaloosa, which is home to the university’s main campus, announced Monday it would close bars and bar service at restaurants for the next two weeks. The college has about 45,000 students across its Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville campuses making it a key test case for returning to in-person classes.

university of alabama

People listen to the national anthem before a football game between Louisiana State University Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide at the Bryant-Denny Stadium Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The University of Alabama has published a COVID-19 dashboard which shows a total of 566 positives since last Wednesday. Source: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking 3,000 institutions, 20 percent have plans for primarily in-person classes, 27 percent say they will go primarily online, 15 percent are opting for a hybrid and 24 percent haven’t announced plans. Last week the University of Notre Dame in Indiana announced it was moving to online instruction after a coronavirus outbreak, as did the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Michigan State. Bell said the University of Alabama was continuing to take steps to stem the spread but wouldn’t say what it would take to move to online learning.

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