Your Safety Is Our Priority

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) is closely monitoring the worldwide situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and continues to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Alabama Department of Public Health and related agencies. ACOM understands that this is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation, and the College will plan accordingly as the situation evolves.

Safety Measures

ACOM leadership continues to monitor the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Based upon the current information received, ACOM has implemented several actions in response to this dynamic situation to help ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and campus community.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing information on public health best practices and prevention, including signage and handouts
  • Enhancing campus cleaning and hygiene protocols
  • Minimizing outside campus visitors and initiating screening protocols
  • Requiring all students, faculty and staff who have flu-like symptoms and/or are running a fever greater than 100.4 degrees to stay home until they have been fever-free without medication for at least 24 hours
  • Canceling all ACOM-sponsored international travel and school-sponsored domestic travel (i.e. conferences)
  • Canceling, rescheduling or moving ACOM-sponsored events to a virtual format
  • Discouraging attendance at off-campus events
  • Providing ongoing email communications and updates to students, faculty and staff

The CDC and ADPH recommend adhering to flu precautions to avoid the Coronavirus, which include:

Beginning the Fall 2020 semester, all lectures will be delivered in a virtual format via Zoom and will be recorded. ACOM encourages “live” participation via Zoom to ask questions. Guest lectures and other designated lectures may be mandatory, requiring students to log into Zoom at the assigned event time. During these mandatory lectures, attendance will be taken, and students must be counted present to get credit for attending the lecture.

The ACOM campus will be open for students to study with specific guidelines for social distancing. Locations including the auditoriums, Team-Based Learning Center and study rooms will have a limited, set capacity that will be strictly enforced. Students can utilize the reservation sign-up process (link available in SEAMed) each week to reserve specific times for rooms. ACOM will keep some seats reserved for student accommodations. If a room is filled to capacity, students will not be allowed to enter the room. Using an electronic sign-up process will allow students to plan ahead. ACOM encourages students to only sign up for times that they know they will use and to drop any reservations as soon as possible to allow other students the opportunity to use facility space.

Osteopathic Principles & Practice (OPP) labs and Primary Clinical Skills (PCS) labs have been broken into smaller groups, and most of these sessions will be in-person, on-campus events. Students will be required to have appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the techniques that are being demonstrated (may be different for various types of labs). Students must wear a mask.

Anatomy labs have also been broken into smaller groups. These sessions will be in-person, in-lab events. OMS-I students will be required to have appropriate PPE for the anatomy lab and will be provided with surgical-style, disposable masks, and gloves for these lab experiences. Students will be responsible for obtaining additional PPE, including any needed extra gloves and disposable masks.

Exams will be taken in-person, on-campus at ACOM, adhering to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines in testing areas. Students will be required to wear a mask during the exam. As always, ear plugs will be available. Exam review will be available following the exam. This format may be different and will be announced before the first exam.

Faculty will have scheduled office hours and/or appointment times for students to meet. Some faculty, including the Academic Support team, may offer office hours via FaceTime and Zoom.

As of July 6, ACOM’s core sites are prepared and eager for students to begin clinical training in their facilities with preceptors. Students should plan to participate in clerkship rotations as scheduled, be open to learning as much as possible from experiences and be willing to function as an essential part of the healthcare team. ACOM will inform students as soon as possible if this plan changes and will continue to facilitate physician training success. Students should maintain active communication with the clinical curriculum team, credentialing team and core site training team (including preceptor, core site coordinator, medical education coordinator, and regional coordinator).

Students should still be mindful of following universal precautions, wearing appropriate PPE, and avoid treating known or suspected COVID-19 patients. As always, if the student becomes ill, he/she should follow the participation guidelines located in each syllabus, complete appropriate forms and do not report for the rotation. If the student feels that he/she is high risk for any reason, including but not limited to being immunocompromised, the student should reach out to Student Services to discuss options for a leave of absence or other special circumstance.

Despite the above precautions, some of students might have to deal with a possible COVID-19 exposure. Exposures may be considered low or high risk and each of ACOM’s training sites may have slightly different protocols. Regardless, if a student develops symptoms, he/she should seek medical attention and not report to the rotation site. However, the student must still communicate appropriately with the team.

The ACOM campus is open to all faculty and staff. Every faculty and staff member will temperature checked and screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon entering the facility. ACOM has developed curriculum delivery plans to minimize the exposure and spread of COVID-19. Faculty will deliver all lectures via Zoom. Most lab sessions will be conducted in-person enhanced social distancing protocols. All in-person student appointment must be scheduled in advance. Visitation to the campus is limited and by appointment only at this time. Therefore, all other appointments with faculty and staff from outside visitors must be pre-approved by the Director of Safety & Security. For additional information, faculty and staff should reference the guidelines and materials sent via email internally by the Director of Safety & Security.

Out of an abundance of caution for our students, faculty, staff and campus community, visitation to the ACOM campus is limited at this time to by appointment only. All visitors must check in at the security desk in the main lobby and will be screened for symptoms of acute respiratory illness upon entering the ACOM facility. Visitors with acute respiratory symptoms may be asked to leave the facility.

Out of an abundance of caution and in the best interest of students, faculty, staff, the campus community and guests, ACOM is rescheduling or moving ACOM-sponsored events to a virtual format until further notice. The College recognizes and understands that many of these decisions will come as a disappointment to the individuals planning to attend these events and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Emails will be sent to communicate specific changes about each event.

Please be advised that event circumstances may change in response to the rapidly evolving nature of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and may require postponement, cancellation, or virtualization in the future. ACOM will continue to evaluate the status of planned upcoming events and provide specific information should plans be altered.

While ACOM-sponsored domestic and international travel is canceled until further notice, the College understands that students may want to conduct personal travel to see family or to fulfill personal obligations.

Travel can increase the risks of COVID-19 exposure to you and the community. ACOM urges everyone to be mindful of COVID-19 during this time. The College strongly discourages any personal trips to areas currently experiencing active community transmission of the virus. Students taking personal trips to an impacted area (including layovers through an impacted area) must be prepared to comply with self-isolation requirements upon their return to Dothan.

Government restrictions and public health measures are changing fast, and you will be subject to any regulations and advisories from the US Government and other relevant agencies during your travel. If students choose to travel during the time the ACOM campus is closed to students, please consider the following posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Things to consider before travel:

Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you get exposed to, or are sick with, COVID-19?
If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with COVID-19, you may be unable to go to work or school until you’re considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid contact with others (including being in public places) during this period of infectiousness.

For more CDC information regarding travel, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.