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Over 600 University of Alabama students sanctioned for breaking coronavirus rules

Three student organizations also received sanctions for violating the school's COVID-19 regulations and a fourth organization is facing suspension.
People line up outside to wait for limited access indoors to order food from Taco Mama on Aug. 15, 2020, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. More than 20,000 students returned to campus at the University of Alabama for the first time since spring break.Vasha Hunt / AP file

More than 630 students at the University of Alabama and three student organizations have received sanctions for violating the school's COVID-19 regulations.

A fourth organization is facing suspension, a university spokesperson told NBC News on Thursday.

The school did not give specific details on what led to the sanctions and suspension, but said in a statement that the university "has issued 639 individual student sanctions as of Sept. 8." Of those, 33 were issued notices which effectively suspend the students "from campus while their conduct cases proceed through due process."

"Student suspensions could range in length depending on the severity of the conduct," the university said.

Last month, the university updated its return to campus guidelines to include language on how it will enforce COVID-19 regulations, The Birmingham News reports. According to the guidelines, the university said "all members of the campus community must strictly adhere to the University's Health and Safety Guidelines," which includes the use of face coverings, social distancing and the restriction of large gatherings.

Those people and groups who are in violation face "stringent sanctions and discipline," it reads.

For students, the first violation will result in a letter documenting the infraction while a second violation will receive a formal conduct charge and a "disciplinary warning, which will be reflected on their student disciplinary record." A third violation will result in disciplinary probation for up to two semesters and the student will be required to complete a character workshop, according to the school.

"Repeat offenders will face increasingly greater sanctions," the guidelines read. "Egregious offenders will be met with significant sanctions up to and including suspension after as little as one offense. Given the expectations for compliance and the need to mitigate risks, leniency in the implementation of sanctions will be limited."

The guidelines also state that no more than 50 people can attend indoor events and 100 for outdoor. All on-campus events or meetings organized by students must be registered through the Office of Student Involvement.

"Additionally, off-campus student events sponsored by, or on behalf of, student organizations are strictly prohibited, absent special approval from the Vice President of Student Life. Off-campus events, if approved, must also comply with all University, local, and state requirements," the guidelines state.

Violations include a written warning after the first offense and the removal of the organization from campus for one academic year following a fourth violation.

Coronavirus cases at the school have continued to climb since on-campus classes started on Aug. 19. According to the school's COVID-19 dashboard, the total number of cases since in-person classes began is at least 1,889.