More than 200 students test positive for COVID-19 after first week of classes

The information was released in the UA System’s first COVID-19 dashboard update of 2021.

More+than+200+students+test+positive+for+COVID-19+after+first+week+of+classes

More than 200 UA students tested positive for COVID-19 after the first week of classes of the spring semester. No sentinel testing numbers were published in Friday’s COVID-19 dashboard update from the UA System.

In the first testing period of the spring 2021 semester, 205 students and 22 faculty or staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. This is the fifth highest weekly case total at The University of Alabama since the beginning of the fall 2020 semester. 

This case count comes over a week after students and Tuscaloosa residents flooded the Strip to celebrate a dominant Crimson Tide victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Hundreds of people gathered on the Strip before the Tuscaloosa Police Department eventually forced them to disperse. 

No sentinel testing numbers were published after the first week of classes despite promises of increased testing efforts by the University in the first three weeks of the spring semester. While no numbers have been published, Vice President of Student Life Myron Pope said that sentinel testing is “in full swing.” 

In December, the University announced that they would be moving away from GuideSafe sentinel testing and would instead conduct sentinel testing through the Student Health Center and University Medical Center. 

More recently, UA administrators said that sentinel testing would be conducted weekly for the first three weeks before being reported every other week. Incentives, such as Starbucks gift cards and Bama Cash, are being offered to students.

The move was made to help meet the goal of testing 2.5% of the University population each week, a goal that was not met during the fall semester of GuideSafe sentinel testing. UAB and UAH elected to continue use of GuideSafe for their sentinel testing efforts.

Ten percent of the 518 available isolation spaces are currently in use by University students. This figure falls short of the 40% occupancy rate seen during the height of the campus case count in early September 2020, when 858 cases were reported among students.

Re-entry testing was limited to only residential students this semester, which resulted in a 1% positivity rate among the more than 7,000 students tested.