Stuart Bell

Under normal circumstances, thousands of University of Alabama graduates would be walking across the stage at Coleman Coliseum today and Saturday.

But the 6,724 UA graduates are living under normal circumstances because of COVID-19.

Since mid-March, UA has implemented some of the most innovative practices nationwide to ensure learning continues for students online.

But now UA President Stuart Bell is focusing on the future. And that future will be on campus.

“We’ve set up a task force across the university that will help us identify all the details of how we make sure that when we get to the fall semester we’re able to have the best experience, but also have a safe experience on our campus,” said Bell.

The sudden lack of students following spring break has taken a big toll on the university’s finances, Bell said.

“We have already pushed out the idea that we are providing some refunds to students for meal plans and housing plans, so those are costs that we will not be recouping,” Bell said. “We also anticipate that there could be some further impacts on summer school and how we deliver those courses and the students who may be on our campus or not.”

Bell said UA has been doing everything they can to save money at this time. With students gone, buildings are sitting empty. That means smaller energy bills. Employees aren’t traveling to conferences or meetings, either.

In addition, the university just announced it won’t be matching employees’ 403B retirement funds from now through September. A 403B is equivalent to a 401K.

“So that is one of the ways we are able to save some of those dollars that may have had to be made by more significant impacts,” Bell said. “We do not plan on having furloughs and layoffs as part of our plan.”

The university remains optimistic about football in the fall, Bell said.

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