Resource Guide: How to get emergency assistance in Tuscaloosa

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CW / Rebecca Griesbach

The Crimson White

In the midst of school closures, confirmed cases and suspended operations, here are some resources for students and faculty who may be facing financial, educational or travel-related hardships. Just like our live feed, we’ll keep this page updated with the newest services, hotlines and guides. Want to add something to this list? Email us at newsdesk@cw.ua.edu.


All University updates and FAQs can be found on healthinfo.ua.edu. As of March 20, a new section titled Student Assistance has been added to the site, which provides links to UA Care and Wellbeing resources to help students in need as well as commercial offerings for services and discounts related to the pandemic.


Screenings

Starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 13, all Alabama residents who are uncertain about needing a COVID-19 test can call 1-888-264-2256 for more information. Druid City Regional Hospital is also offering drive-through screenings from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tests take 3 to 5 days to come back. 

While the Student Health Center does not have COVID-19 testing kits, Dr. Ramesh Peramsetty is offering testing seven days a week at three of his offices: Crimson Urgent Care, First Care and Crimson Skyland Care.

According to the CDC, The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

On-Campus Resources

As of March 23, students may still access the Student Health Center and Pharmacy from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling ahead to schedule an appointment. Lakeside Dining Hall will also be open to students on a grab-and-go basis. Students may also contact UAPD at (205) 348-5454 for food pantry needs. 

Student Government

The Student Government Association continues to operate to provide resources and information for students. Students can direct their questions and concerns to the Bama Asks portal at ask.sga.ua.edu. The SGA also offers need-based scholarships, which can be applied for here.

“The SGA will continue to serve students by diligently working with university administrators to ensure that students’ needs are met as the situation evolves,” said SGA President Harrison Adams.

Incoming SGA President Demarcus Joiner encourages all students to utilize available resources and do their part to flatten the curve.

“Over three weeks ago, I pledged to students that my main goal for my term would be to enhance the student experience, engagement, environment, and equity,” Joiner said. “I can assure you that this is still my mission along with the rest of SGA as we each navigate the coronavirus pandemic. We have been working tirelessly since the beginning of this pandemic to make sure that the transition to online classes for students is as peaceful as can be. As we continue to work with university administrators to serve all students, I encourage everyone to continue engaging in social distancing to help flatten the curve. My prayer is that all members of our campus community remain safe and healthy during this trying time.”

Emergency Assistance Fund

The UA Office of Student Care and Wellbeing has an Emergency Assistance Fund that students can apply to for financial help. The Emergency Assistance Fund is *not* a loan, and students will not be expected to pay back any money they receive. That said, this functions like many academic funds, wherein students will be reimbursed for lost pay, or things they have already had to spend money on. This is a barrier for low-income students, who may not be able to pay for things up front, but is better than nothing. 

“The Office of the Dean of Students is grateful for the support and compassion of the UA community, whose generous donations make it possible for us to aid students in need,” said Stacy Jones, associate dean of students. “We continue to be a source of support and assistance, especially in times of crisis.”

To receive funding, students must complete the online form through the link above, and they have to be able to provide documentation for the funds they are requesting (i.e. receipts from traveling, or pay stubs from employment to show that they were receiving income, and are not getting that now because they had to leave campus). The office has closed for spring break but will return on March 23, when they will be reviewing more applications. 

Tide Together for Students

The Tide Together Student Support Fund is an assistance program that allows students the opportunity to access short term financial help in times of need.

“Members of the campus community have been asking how they can help students through the financial challenges related to the evolving circumstances of COVID-19,” the University wrote in a press release. “The Tide Together Student Support Fund is an assistance program administered through the Division of Student Life that provides students with access to short term financial help in times of need. Due to the current public health crisis, many students lack the financial resources needed to travel home, to find alternate housing arrangements, or to simply afford food. Some may even lack the technical and digital access to take classes online. The Tide Together Support Fund provides a lifeline for these students.”

Employee Assistance Program

The University of Alabama contracted with American Behavioral in August 2018 to provide professionally trained counselors to give you options and resources for coping more effectively with a variety of life challenges. Services range from counseling, work-life balance, training and education, on-site crisis intervention, and confidential services. Learn more here

UA Libraries

  • There will be no overdue charges on any library materials. This includes inter-library loan (ILL) items.
  • You can place new ILL requests but they will not be processed until the libraries reopen.
  • Faculty and students should have the same access to digital databases that they had previously. However, the system may be slower due to increased traffic on all networks.

Teaching Resources

The UA graduate school has made some new tools available to help with remote class management and is collaborating with the College of Continuing Studies to jointly support the move from face-to-face to online classes. These tools include:

  • An expanded webinar calendar.
  • CIT is now supporting Zoom for UA users. The UA System Office has created Zoom accounts for instructors, who should have received activation messages from Zoom. Students do not need Zoom accounts to participate in meetings.
  • UA now has access to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra from within Blackboard. This tool has similar features to Zoom.
  • Use Panopto to record lectures or other content for students to access on-demand. Panopto also allows students to make recordings.
  • Remote Proctoring with Respondus Monitor is an add-on feature for Lockdown Browser for exams. Monitor uses the webcam to record student exam sessions as a deterrent to cheating. It flags suspicious behavior and uses advanced data analysis to determine which exam sessions require the greatest level of attention by instructors.
  • In order to help instructors and students transition to online learning, Blackboard Ally for LMS has been enabled in all Blackboard courses. Ally helps make digital course content more accessible by automatically providing alternative formats (such as semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille) and providing instructor feedback and guidance on fixing accessibility issues in a course.

Student Loan Interest Rates

A Department of Education spokesperson said that under a new student loan policy, any borrower with a federal loan – including those in income-driven repayment and in forbearance – will have interest waived until the temporary policy ends. The spokesperson added that the department does not know exactly how long the policy will be in effect. 

Read this CNN article, which breaks it down. 

Flights

  • Students who purchase before March 23 can fly free with Frontier for every round-trip Discount Den Fare purchased on qualifying flights and dates. 
  • Ryanair is also letting passengers change flight dates for free until March 31. 

Car Rentals

  • Enterprise car rentals is waiving young renter fees and reducing age requirements until May 31 to aid with student travel. Learn more here.

Housing 

  • U-Haul is offering 30-day free storage for students displaced due to school closures. 
  • Current dorm residents may request for an exception by completing a form, which was emailed to all residents on Tuesday, March 18. Those requesting to remain in their residence hall must demonstrate an exceptional need to be on campus. A committee will review requests the week of March 23. 

WiFi

  • Spectrum is offering free 60-day broadband and WiFi to students without it. Call 1-844-488-8395 to enroll.
  • In addition to the WIFI routers UA has available on each of its campuses in Tuscaloosa, you can find a map of hotspots Xfinity has made freely available for 60 days by typing in your zip code here.
  • The city of Tuscaloosa is working on an ArcGIS map of open hotspots in town by all cellular/internet providers. The site is still password protected but should be up and running soon.

Wellness Tips

Every faculty and staff member should be doing everything possible to practice social distancing and other preventive health strategies related to COVID-19 – whether you are on campus or not. Here are some social distancing tips and techniques to help you.

The University has also provided tips to cope with social distancing, provided by Dr. Crystal Dillard, a UA psychology clinic director.

Other Resource Guides/Mutual Aid

  • This crowdsourced guide lists countywide resources for free food and childcare.
  • This Tuscaloosa resource guide lists links to food-specific resources, as well as the West Alabama Food Bank, Community Program Services and Catholic Social Services. Check it out here.
  • Tuscaloosa Mutual Aid: TMA’s goal is ultimately to reach beyond our current state of emergency and create the infrastructure necessary for community support on an everyday basis.