The Alabama Department of Public Health is clarifying earlier statements that all Alabama college and universities will require students to be tested for COVID-19 prior to campus arrival, emphasizing that specific testing protocols are directed by each campus.

Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville received final guidelines Tuesday from the Chancellor and System office on whether testing would be mandatory, according to NACC President David Campbell.

“Residential students on campuses will have the test in the first phase,” Campbell said. “Since we don’t have campus residences, Northeast will not be included in the first phase. Students taking a credit class on campus and faculty and staff may be tested in the second phase, which will probably be in September. This would include some students and personnel at Northeast. However, this would be optional for them. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is in charge of this.”

Campbell said all coursework this fall that can be done remotely is being delivered in that manner. This excludes nursing clinicals and workforce development programs that aren’t practical outside of a lab setting.

“Theory and lecture classes are online. Educators are being very, very careful during this,” Campbell said.

He personally recommends people get tested, even if it isn’t mandatory.

“I encourage students, faculty, and staff to get tested,” Campbell said. “I think that is the safest course for everyone.”

GuideSafe™ Entry Testing (formerly Stay Safe Together™ Testing) is providing free COVID-19 testing for students at Alabama’s colleges and universities, including Jacksonville State University, the nearest testing location. The tests will be offered at no cost to students through the federal CARES Act funding. There is also a self-administered at-home test kit available that requires sending the sample back in prepaid packaging.

In announcing the statewide initiative, officials within the University of Alabama system announced that COVID-19 testing is required by many public or private four-year colleges in the state of Alabama and for two-year college students who reside on campus. The move is expected to both contain outbreaks and provide valuable insight into asymptomatic cases of the disease.

Campbell said testing will be available to NACC students, staff and faculty though the same type of partnership that the four-year schools have with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“When I say it is optional, I am saying that our students may choose to have the testing if they want, but it is not required for them to enroll,” he said.

“Personally, I think this is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, and I recommend the testing. I plan to have it. Coronavirus is an extremely dangerous virus and I believe in taking every possible precaution against it – testing, wearing masks, social distancing, staying out of crowds and washing your hands vigorously and often. This is the exact approach that we take with it at Northeast.”

GuideSafe also includes “HealthCheck”, “Exposure Notification App” and “Event Passport” smartphone apps to allows individuals nationwide to report health status, symptoms and exposure, with anonymous self-reporting and automated alerts to individuals with previous proximity or close contact with a later positive COVID-19 person.

Learn more about Alabama college student entry testing protocols at https://www.guidesafe.org/testing/. To learn more about enrolling at NACC, visit https://www.nacc.edu/ or call (256) 638-4418.

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