Commitment to safeguards among Auburn Family critical to strong fall reentry

Published: August 28, 2020
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Two weeks into a new semester, the results of the A Healthier U reentry plan are being seen throughout campus. As COVID-19 reports continue, though, a renewed and even stronger push of the plan’s required safeguards will be needed.

Already, from the classroom to the athletic field and from the office to the dining hall, many in the Auburn Family are doing their part toward a safe fall reentry. Such dedication must be maintained and encouraged to continue growing among all in our community.

“This truly is an all-in approach for every member of the Auburn Family, recognizing that we must be unified and fully committed to our new safety protocols in ensuring a successful fall semester,” said Bill Hardgrave, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

For public relations major Shelby Julien, who will graduate in spring 2021, adhering to the campus’ safety protocols is just one more way she can show her Auburn pride and live up to the calling of the Auburn Creed.

“Every day before I leave for class, I make sure to get approved through the Heathcheck screener tool,” said Julien, referring to an app that students must use daily before coming to campus to report any symptoms or possible exposure to the disease, receiving a green “passport” if approved to attend in-person classes. “And I make sure to wear a mask everywhere I go on campus. I want to do my part to help, and these are two easy ways I can do that daily.”

Ada Ruth Huntley, Auburn’s Student Government Association president, is also doing her part.

"COVID-19 is nothing to take lightly, and I have been doing everything in my power to protect myself and others from this virus,” she said. “This entails wearing my mask when in public, avoiding gathering in large groups and social distancing, among other precautions. It is my hope that by doing these things that I can help better protect members of the Auburn Family."

Sarah Houchin, a senior captain and defender on Auburn’s women’s soccer team, is remaining dedicated to keeping safe and calls on others to do the same.

"We've been together for a couple of months now and have done our best to stay socially responsible, holding each other accountable,” she said. “We've seen the student body start to catch on to the protocols put in place and hope others will continue to follow. It's about more than ourselves, and we can get through this together."

Bobby Woodard, senior vice president for Student Affairs, said it’s that can-do attitude and caring approach for all within the Auburn Family that is necessary among the entire student body to see us through to yet another great year.

“The best Auburn experience is shared when we are together on campus, and we must all do our part to achieve the goal of finishing the school year strong,” he said.

The fall semester has certainly been unlike any before it, but from the start Auburn was prepared with its A Healthier U plan – which includes a requirement of face coverings indoors and outdoors, frequent and enhanced cleaning of facilities, plexiglass guards where needed, safe physical distancing in classrooms, the flexibility of several instructional modalities, helpful protocol signage throughout campus and a requirement for the campus community to self-report a possible case of COVID-19 online here.

To further encourage healthy behaviors, all on-campus students, faculty and staff received an A Heathier U wellness kit that included a reusable face covering and hand sanitizer. Auburn has also partnered with institutions across the state to implement the GuideSafe™ platform of tools designed to facilitate a safe return to campus. An integral part of the A Healthier U plan, GuideSafe™ leverages a three-step approach to safeguarding campus health that includes the required COVID-19 entry testing for all students who are on campus, completing the required daily Healthcheck to self-screen for virus symptoms and encouraging use of Exposure Notification, a Google- and Apple-developed app that anonymously alerts users of potential exposure to someone with coronavirus.

Lindsay Tan, an associate professor and program coordinator in Interior Design, says she always makes sure to use the Healthcheck screener app before she comes to campus.

“Green passport means go. Red passport means I’m logging in from home,” she said. “But wherever we are, six feet away or six million miles away, we are still a part of this Auburn Family.”

Employees are working hard to do what they can as well.

“It’s so great to see the students back on campus, and I want to do my part in keeping campus clean and safe so we can all have a great school year,” said Nora Macon, who has worked for Auburn for 25 years and wears a face covering each day while conducting a strict and deep cleaning of Samford Hall.

Throughout campus, such efforts can be seen – whether it’s plexiglass guards up at checkout stations in the Auburn University Bookstore or at tables in the dining area of Foy Hall. And to ride Tiger Transit on the way to campus, students and others must show their green passport from the Healthcheck app to board. Students also must present the passport upon entering a classroom.

In another show of dedication to ensuring a safe campus, Auburn has seen employees volunteer their time to help work the university’s newly created COVID-19 Resource Center, a centralized on-campus hub for questions from students, faculty, staff and parents regarding COVID-19. The campus community is required to self-report positive COVID-19 test results and can receive answers to COVID-related human resource questions and learn more about Healthcheck passes, isolation and quarantine procedures and other frequently asked questions through the COVID-19 Resource Center. To contact the center, call 334-844-6000 or visit aub.ie/covidhelp.

Woodard said that with everyone pitching in and doing their part, the Auburn Family will be stronger as a result.

“We are all in this together, and by following the new standards and supporting one another we are upholding the family tradition that Auburn is known for and epitomizes,” he said.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.