6 days after reopening, the University of Alabama has over 500 coronavirus cases. Now the student newspaper is warning the administration: 'We won't be your PR'

  • On Monday, the University of Alabama reported a total of 566 coronavirus cases across all its campuses less than a week into the first day of class on August 19. 
  • The University of Alabama is offering a combination of in-person and hybrid courses. 
  • One student newspaper criticized the administration for not taking enough action, claiming that "students have taken the University's requirements as suggestions solely because administration has as well."
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On Monday, six days after the first classes began at the University of Alabama, the school reported a total of 566 positive test cases of coronavirus.

The campus has employed a combination of in-person and hybrid courses in the academic year because of the pandemic.

As students returned to campus around the first day of school on August 19, photos circulated on social media showing the University of Alabama students crowding outside bars in Tuscaloosa, where the flagship campus is located.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, per the request of the University of Alabama, announced an executive order to close local bars for two weeks effective on Monday.

On Monday, the University of Alabama's president said in a letter to students, faculty, and staff that the rise in positive coronavirus cases is "unacceptable." He stressed that violations of health and safety protocols "both on and off campus" are subject to "harsh disciplinary action, up to and including suspension from UA." However, he noted that "completing the fall semester together" is his goal.

The University of Alabama did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on whether its plans to reopen have changed since the spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Meanwhile, the student newspaper published an opinion column one day after reopening that criticized the university, appearing to fault campus officials for setting a poor example for students. "Students have taken the University's requirements as suggestions solely because administration has as well," the column read in part.

The op-ed, titled "No, President Bell, we won't be your PR," also reported the school's president of warning student journalists months earlier to "be careful what we publish during this time," to which the student newspaper responded by saying it is their job as campus journalists to "address accomplishments, opinions and concerns at this University."

Colleges across the country are changing plans as they witness spikes in coronavirus cases after reopening. The University of North Carolina saw 135 coronavirus cases in one week of reopening. And the University of Notre Dame canceled in-person courses for two weeks. Eighty positive cases were reported there in one day earlier this month.

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