Some university students concerned off-campus activities will increase spread of COVID-19

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The University of Alabama and Auburn University have both seen a spike of students test positive for COVID-19 in the past week.

Students are now back on campus at the colleges and universities in Mobile. COVID-19 precautions and protocols are in place at each school.

Some students we spoke with at the University of South Alabama say they are not concerned with the precautions the school is taking on campus, but instead are more concerned with what other students are doing off campus.

“People are going to do what people are going to do,” said Shaleah McCain, a junior at South Alabama.

Students have been back on campus for a week, and some say they’re seeing a trend already among their peers.

“People are pretty much going to the bars, house parties, then coming to class. That’s why its spreading so fast,” said McCain.

Others, disagree. “I feel like some people went home for the weekend and just so happened to get it. I don’t think it’s too much of a worry,” said Caleb Lockridge, a senior at South Alabama.

The University of South Alabama put several measures in place as students returned to campus for the first time since March, including a health screening, entry testing, a training program, and they had students take a ‘South Strong Pledge.’

“They made a commitment to practice social distancing, to wear their masks, to practice frequent hand washing, to report positive cases to our contact tracing unit,” said Dr. Julie Estis, the COVID-19 response coordinator at the University of South Alabama.

The school also started ‘Jag Health Check’ this week, which is a daily screening tool for students and employees where they can check their symptoms.

“Both of those screens lead to follow-ups with our student health, our employee health. We’re using that as a screening tool to help reduce the spread,” Dr. Estis said.

Students we spoke with say they think the school is taking the proper precautions where they can, like reminding people to wear their masks and staying six feet apart.

“They’re providing free masks, and they’re doing a new thing called screening,” McCain said.

“They’re taking great precautions, every building you go into, has hand sanitizer, everybody is making sure you’re wearing your masks. Everybody is doing their job in trying to make sure to slow the spread,” Lockridge said.

But some say they worry school could eventually close down again, because of what they see happening off-campus.

“This week, I know there’s going to be a lot of partying going along so we’ll see, but I think it’s probably going to end up happening and it’s going to get to the point where we’re not going to get to come back,” McCain said.

USA says they also started a COVID-19 dashboard, to keep people informed on the number of cases as the year continues. As of the week of 8/15/2020-8/21/2020, 26 students were positive for the virus.

We also asked the City of Mobile if they would take further action, like Tuscaloosa is closing bars. They responded with this statement:

The City of Mobile is monitoring COVID-19 data daily. We have seen a downward trend in positive cases over the past two weeks. If cases should rise, we will weigh all options with the Unified Command (MCHD and County) along with health professionals to make the best decision for our citizens.

The City of Mobile

Spring Hill College says they are actively monitoring for any positive cases, and conducting contact tracing where needed.

Spring Hill College is actively monitoring and conducting contact tracing on any positive cases that are identified. We will be publishing a weekly dashboard for the campus community beginning this Friday to help raise awareness. In addition, the Health Check symptom monitoring platform and the Notifications app that are part of the GuideSafe platform will be immensely helpful in assisting us proactively identify potential cases and close contacts to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Ashley Rains, Director of Media & Public Relations for Spring Hill College

The University of Mobile says they have several policies in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The University of Mobile has policies and procedures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections, monitor students and employees to control any spread of infection, and respond to any cases that appear. (See umobile.edu/coronavirus). We have not seen any kind of outbreak or spike at the University of Mobile. We continue to monitor and are prepared to respond if that changes. Education efforts are ongoing across campus to remind and encourage students and employees to follow CDC guidelines.

The University of Mobile

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