The future of in-person instruction at the University of Alabama this semester hangs in a delicate balance as positive COVID-19 cases are seeing an "unacceptable rise" just days after classes resumed there this week.

In a message to all students, faculty and staff, Stuart Bell, the president of the Tuscaloosa campus, said if the troubling trend is not reversed, in-person classes may be in jeopardy.

"Make no mistake, this trend is a real threat to our ability to complete the semester on campus," Bell wrote.

The academic administrator stressed the usual COVID-19 prevention measures -- wearing a mask, social distancing, good hygiene and compliance with mandates released Friday that ban student gatherings and restrict access to on-campus housing .

Bell also said the Tuscaloosa Police Department and University of Alabama Police Department are working together to crack down on social gatherings at area restaurants, bars and off-campus housing.

He warned that students who are not taking these virus prevention measures seriously will face serious consequences, possibly including suspension from the University.

"Completing the fall semester together is our goal. The margin for error is shrinking," Bell wrote. "Now is the time to take action, commit to protect each other, and hold each other accountable. Thank you for taking your responsibilities seriously. Together, through shared sacrifice and commitment, we will achieve our goal."

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