Myron Pope: ‘If we increase at the rate we did this week, give us a week and a half and we’re going to be at full capacity’

Keely Brewer | @keelykbrewer, Assistant News Editor

The University has entered a 14-day moratorium on in-person student activities, social or otherwise. 

Although reentry testing maintained a 1% positivity rate, about 29% of tests performed on campus Thursday yielded positive results.

The tests that were performed on Thursday were for people who were re-testing for the virus due to being in direct contact with someone who was positive for the virus, according to vise president for student life Myron Pope.

“If we increase at the rate we did this week, give us a week and a half and we’re going to be at full capacity,” Pope said in a meeting with student leaders on August 21. 

More than 450 beds have been dedicated for isolation purposes, according to an email from UA President Stuart Bell.

“Although more than 90% of those beds are vacant, we will expand those resources as needed,” Bell said in the email.

This week alone, Pope said, he’s seen many situations arise in student conduct reporting where upwards of 30 people gathered in a suite intended to house four students. 

“While we are appreciative to those who have taken these expectations seriously, I am deeply disappointed that those guidelines are not being followed by each and every member of our student body,” Bell said in a campus-wide email. 

One student leader attending the meeting suggested public data as an incentive for proper student conduct.

“It’s something that a lot of us feel is really ambiguous information,” she said. “None of us really know how dire the situation is on campus.”

Beginning Monday afternoon, a System-wide data dashboard will be accessible as the University moves forward with sentinel testing. The plan to publish testing data follows concern voiced during a Faculty Senate meeting held the day before classes started, which Bell attended. 

In response, Pope announced a set of new policies to reinforce and build upon pre-existing guidelines because the actions of a few can “jeopardize the health, safety and UA experience we all value.” 

Entry into Greek houses is now restricted to residents, advisors and staff, and common areas are off-limits. Meal services for both resident and non-resident members will be limited to grab and go, and all social gatherings are prohibited in the house, on-campus and off-campus. “Escalated consequences will be imposed” for students who violate these policies. 

On-campus housing and residential communities will continue to prohibit guest visitors and the use of common areas. 

The Tuscaloosa Police Department and the UA Police Department will be conducting joint patrols near campus, and elevated consequences will be imposed on off-campus students who host or attend social gatherings in violation of local and statewide mask and social distancing restrictions. Hosts of gathering will face heightened consequences, which could include suspension, even on a first violation. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.