Athens State University has now seen its first confirmed cases of employees testing positive for COVID-19.
Athens State President Philip Way announced the development on the university's website Wednesday. He said that the cases were “not unexpected given the increase in cases in Alabama.”
Chris Latham, Athens State's director of marketing and communications, confirmed that three staff members have tested positive for coronavirus and that no teachers have been affected.
“In each case where an employee has tested positive, our human resources office has coordinated the response with both the person testing positive as well as those with whom they may have had contact,” Way said.
He said the university is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and advising anyone who has come in contact with an infected person to be tested and self quarantine.
“If the test is negative, an employee will return to work,” Way said. “If the test is positive, an employee must remain off campus for a period of 14 days from the date they were initially tested.”
Latham said there are two access points onto the campus, Hobbs and Beaty streets. Screening procedures have been put in place that those seeking entrance must take and pass each day.
“A person working the entrance will ask them a series of questions related to coronavirus, like if they have shown any symptoms or been exposed,” he said. “Then, their temperature is taken. Everyone has to do that each day to get on campus.”
Those that pass get a wristband for the day, he said.
Latham said none of the staff members who have tested positive caught the virus from fellow employees on campus.
“Only staff members and a handful of faculty members are on campus right now,” he said. “Most of the classes going on this summer are online. It may remain that way this fall, but it depends on the class. Some (classes) are easier to hold online than others.”
Way said the areas of the campus that have been impacted have been “closed for deep cleaning by our third-party cleaning service until the cleaning is completed.”
“We will continue to monitor events as they transpire and take all necessary actions to ensure a safe work environment,” he said.
Way also stressed the importance of social distancing and wearing face coverings while on campus.
“We are extremely grateful that only a few cases have been identified,” he said.