Communication to Students from President Ken Kitts

Dear UNA Students,

I know many of you and your families are monitoring news reports related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization has now designated as a global pandemic. I want to assure you that appropriate preparations are taking place should UNA and/or our local community be affected. The safety and well-being of our community is of utmost importance. The University’s Executive Council (the senior administrative team) and other individuals across campus have communicated constantly since day-one of the infection in China and have plans in place to address the needs that are presenting in other areas of the country, should those needs arise here. Working together, we developed a statement detailing the University’s position that was shared as a press release on March 6. In that statement, we tried to strike a balance in our institutional posture that emphasizes common-sense preparations but rejects dramatic and disruptive steps that are not supported by known facts. Maintaining that balance is imperative for all of us, both as citizens and as members of the UNA family, if we are to continue to make good decisions in the face of this challenge.

As of this morning, Alabama still had no reported cases, and the states with the highest number of reported cases (Washington, New York, and California) are far removed from our location. Still, it’s likely only a matter of time before a case is identified here in Alabama. If and when that happens, we will deal with it responsibly and continue to make the best decisions we can for our campus community. I am meeting tomorrow morning with a group of campus leaders to compare notes on our coronavirus preparations and to develop contingency plans we can deploy if governmental authorities direct an alteration in our schedule, or if we determine that a change in operations is necessary based on circumstances in our area.

As we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, we also are making decisions regarding travel as needed. At this time, University-sponsored travel to CDC-identified level 2 and level 3 countries has been suspended through the end of March. The Division of Student Affairs has also canceled alternative break trips that were scheduled for later this month over Spring Break, due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 data point predictions over the next few weeks and out of an abundance of caution for the communities and potentially vulnerable populations that UNA would be serving. It would be premature at this time to make decisions on travel beyond that time-frame.

UNA’s Health Services is in direct contact with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We have plans in place to address the need for isolation areas, food distribution, and other possible needs. Additionally, UNA is part of a consortium of agencies through the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency to ensure consistency and collaboration in the event the virus becomes wide-spread in our area.

Please visit www.una.edu/healthservices for more information FAQs on the University Health Services website as well. Students, you are encouraged to share all of this information with your families.

Ken Kitts
President