New University of Alabama students share 'A' moment at Bryant-Denny Stadium

Staff report
Members of the freshman class at the University of Alabama form the traditional script A on the field in Bryant-Denny Stadium Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. The event was one of many for incoming freshmen designed to help them acclimate to the university and the City of Tuscaloosa. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

First-year students at the University of Alabama gathered Tuesday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium for a convocation that ended with the students forming UA's logo on the field for a class photo.

The activities were part of UA's Weeks of Welcome, a series of events linked to Wednesday's beginning of classes at the Tuscaloosa campus.

“We are thrilled to be bringing Weeks of Welcome back to students in-person this year,” said Paige Acker, director of University Programs, in a news release. “We really believe in the meaningful experiences in-person events can provide and the way they build community on campus.”

Students at Tuesday's convocation heard from speakers, including UA basketball coach Nate Oats and UA gymnastics coach Dana Duckworth, before taking to the field and forming the script "A" logo.

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Other Weeks of Welcome events include block parties, a pool party, a comedy night at the Ferguson Center and a myriad of programs designed to connect students with programs available to them at UA, such as counseling and academic advice.

“I hope students participating in WOW this year learn about resources available to them, feel like they are a part of UA and have a lot of fun,” Acker said. “We want students to really feel like they are getting the most out of their first two weeks on campus.”

Masks required

For the return of around 38,000 students to the Tuscaloosa campus, UA has reinstated  an indoor mask mandate after the summertime surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. The mandate, which took effect Aug. 6 at UA's Birmingham, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa campuses, requires face coverings indoors for everyone on campus, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

In addition to classrooms and classroom buildings, the rule also covers on-campus transportation and personal meeting spaces, as well as meetings with faculty and advisers and gatherings in common spaces, such as student centers.

Exceptions to the mask rule include when people are alone in offices and private workspaces, in residence hall rooms and while eating, drinking or exercising. 

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The UA System said the mask mandate is temporary and will be re-evaluated after the first two weeks of classes.

The UA System has also updated its online COVID-19 dashboard. The current dashboard shows 72% of UA employees on the Tuscaloosa campus have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. During the week of Aug. 9-15, UA's Tuscaloosa campus had 56 students and 26 faculty or staff members test positive for COVID-19, according to the dashboard.