Earlier today, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey extended her current Safer At Home until August 31, 2020. In addition, Section 14 of the order, which affects Educational Institutions, was revised concerning facial coverings, adding language for students in second grade and above (including colleges and universities). It reads as follows:

Facial coverings              

Each employee, and each student in second grade or above , shall, to the greatest extent practicable, wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times when in regular interaction within six feet of a person from a different household.

While we have been practicing using facial coverings on campus for faculty and staff when within six feet of each other through the summer, this change extends the requirement to students.
However, as classes begin in mid-August, we will go a step further and require students to engage in both social distancing and mask wearing in classrooms. This is based on recent research findings that show the benefits of masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19. According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” In accordance with the Governor’s order, faculty may teach without a face covering so long as they are able to distance themselves a minimum of six feet. Plexiglas-type barriers or face shields may also be used. Reasonable accommodations may be allowed for students unable to meet the face covering requirement by contacting our ADA officer, Juliana Hunt, for assistance at or by calling (256) 233-8143.
Finally, as many of you are aware, the State of Alabama has initiated one of the most aggressive higher education re-entry safety plans in the country that includes free testing available to all students attending public universities in the state. Communications were sent to Athens State students yesterday that provided details for re-entry testing and will be a required component for coming to campus. Students who choose not to be tested will be encouraged to enroll in online courses, and those students who are admitted to campus and choose not to comply with the face covering requirement should be given the choice to either leave voluntarily or Security should be contacted at 256-233-8222.
I truly appreciate the efforts of everyone to make our campus safe for all faculty, staff, and students. I believe that through our collective efforts, we can create an environment that is conducive to learning while adhering to the directives and recommendations from state and federal agencies. As always, our work is vital to the future of the State of Alabama and to those seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
Philip Way