UNA student return

Jake Statom, member of the University of North Alabama Student Government Association Senate, makes masks for students returning to campus this month. [BERNIE DELINSKI/TIMESDAILY]

FLORENCE — The first test of the fall semester for University of North Alabama students this year has nothing to do with academics.

All UNA students must take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus for the semester, which starts Aug. 19, university officials said. The residence hall move-in period is Aug. 9-15.

UNA officials said the COVID test is free through the GuideSafe Entry Testing initiative, which is supported by Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding through the state of Alabama.

“In an ongoing effort to promote overall health and safety on campus as part of our comprehensive return-to-campus plan, we have partnered with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the GuideSafe Entry Testing initiative to provide these tests for UNA students,” said Kimberly Greenway, vice president for Student Affairs, and chairwoman of the university's COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. “It’s an additional step to creating and maintaining a safe environment as the semester gets underway.”

Students have received an email from GuideSafe in their UNA Portal account with information on the testing, Greenway said.

Those who test negative are approved to return to UNA, but those who are positive cannot return until receiving medical clearance from a health care provider after quarantine.

Students also should be in the process of a daily self-assessment, which they are required to do for two weeks before returning to campus, according to the plan.

That assessment involves students to evaluate themselves based on these questions:

• Do you have a fever or have you felt feverish within the past 24 hours?

• Do you have a cough?

• Do you have a sore throat?

• Do you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath?

• Do you have fatigue?

• Do you have muscle pain?

• Do you have a headache?

• Do you have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea?

• Do you have chills or repeated shaking with chills?

• Have you lost the ability to smell or taste?

• Have you tested positive for COVID-19, or are you awaiting COVID-19 test results?

• Have you been around anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is awaiting test results?

UNA officials said it is natural for students to have questions about their return under the circumstances, which is why the university has scheduled a virtual town hall.

That event is at 3 p.m. Wednesday via Zoom. It can be accessed at una.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TJSr-s8aSf6sYzRRz8K7TQ. Click the link and register to join.

Questions may be submitted in advance to admissions@una.edu.

“This is a great opportunity for students, as well as their families, to speak with representatives from several areas of campus about any lingering questions they may have regarding our ongoing health and safety protocols,” UNA Admissions Director Julie Taylor said. “They can also address any last-minute questions they might have about financial aid and the student experience for the fall semester.”

Topics include instructional plans, student experience, health, wellness and safety, resources and financial challenges, and scholarships, officials said.

UNA has published a detailed return to campus plan, which is available at una.edu/university-communications/covid-19.html.

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bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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