Administration met with student leaders from all over campus Tuesday night to discuss the status of COVID-19 at the university and hear student concerns, showing a hands-on coronavirus task force willing to work with students and understand issues.
The university is hovering around 80 to 85 cases per week, but the number of new cases and recoveries fluctuates daily, according to Dr. Lance Tatum, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and the head of the coronavirus task force.
“No students have been hospitalized,” Tatum said, also taking a moment to knock on the wooden stage behind him.
“If you don’t remember anything else I say tonight, remember this: Help us make it to December,” said Dr. John Schmidt, senior vice chancellor for student services and administration.
Schmidt said Tatum was as hands-on and caring about students as possible.
Troy University was the first university in Alabama to begin publishing case data, Tatum said.
As of Tuesday, about 200 students were in quarantine – mostly off-campus – but that number is also ever-changing.
One floor of Pace Hall has been reserved for students who need to quarantine on campus, and students who quarantine there can contact student services to get meal deliveries three times a day.
The meeting was an opportunity for students leaders from across campus to discuss their concerns.
Pedro Ferreira, a senior music industry major from Lisbon, Portugal, and a residence director in Trojan Village, said he was happy to see administration taking a hands-on approach to understanding student issues.
“It was actually really good to hear,” he said. “I felt like, up until then, everything was unknown, and all I had was silence, especially as a person who has a job on campus.
“I could hear that there was a plan. I could hear that they are putting all possibilities on the table, and they’re really trying their best to avoid going home.”
He said he appreciated the mentality of just trying to make it to Thanksgiving.
“Online education doesn’t have the same quality, and it’s good to know university higher administration is doing their best to hear our concerns and make things happen.”
He also said he wished resident assistants had more information about cases within the dorms.
“I wish we could have a daily update of who tested positive, so we could better perform our jobs and avoid possible outbreak,” he said. “If we don’t know who’s quarantining and who’s positive, we can’t enforce the quarantine.”
Tatum said the university is also rolling out a health check app to test students for symptoms and exposure.
“It ends up giving you a screen that is red or green,” Tatum said. “A red screen means you might test positive.
“What we have been finding is that students are very honest.”
Greek organizations, the Sound of the South and the College of Health and Human Services have already been using the app.
“If we see a hotspot forming, the data will tell us that, and we can start making decisions,” Tatum said.
Through the statewide GuideSafe program, the university will also begin requesting 3% of the university population to be randomly tested at Elm Street Gym.
Once a week, a random set of students, faculty and staff will get an email asking them to come in for a test. This test is not mandatory.
“This is geared toward identifying asymptomatic folks,” Tatum said.
Students can get tested at the health center for free by appointment, and tests come back either the same day or the next morning, depending on the time of the test.
Flu shots are also free at the health center.
“The greatest fear we have right now is a convergence of the flu and the coronavirus because they’re very similar symptoms,” Schmidt said. “Please go get your flu shot.”
The Tropolitan is working on a story for the next edition, speaking with resident assistants about their work keeping doorm residents safe and healthy.