Letter from the Chancellor: August 14, 2020

Dear U of A community:

The fall semester fast approaches! For some, this is a source of excitement, for others it may be cause for consternation. We’re working very hard to increase the former and reduce the latter. Over the last several months, faculty and staff have made extraordinary efforts to get our campus ready for this semester.

A great way to learn more about these efforts is to read this recap of Wednesday’s online forum, where several campus experts provided in-depth updates on health and safety precautions related to residence halls, classrooms, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and support services for students in the event they are quarantined. Also discussed were efforts to improve the campus racial climate, which remains a priority. It was a great conversation that provided a window into just how comprehensive campus planning has been.

I think the question we hear most these days starts with, “Have you thought of…?” Anyone who attended this forum, or reads the recap, can see the depth of consideration and caution exercised to date to ensure the safest possible return this fall.

The reality, though, is that it doesn’t matter how many face coverings we provide or how many classrooms we disinfect and reconfigure for social distancing if accepted guidelines aren’t followed outside of the classroom, as well. Our campus community must adhere to well established protocols for physical distancing, wearing masks, handwashing, and avoiding crowds – whether we are on campus or off. This is not the Middle Ages, there are no castle walls to protect us. We have to protect each other through our actions. As a campus that is also an inextricable part of its community, we are truly in this together.

So I will again emphasize how important it is that everyone comply with the use of face coverings in all settings that require them. While we do not anticipate resistance to this policy – our campus has overwhelmingly shown it understands the need - we are prepared to institute Code of Student Conduct violations or utilize the Progressive Discipline Policy for employees if it becomes necessary. Let’s ensure it doesn’t by respecting each other’s health and welfare. And of course testing and other medical services are available on campus at the Pat Walker Health Center

I also wanted to make our faculty aware of a new website, Keepteaching.uark.edu, which provides resources for remote and hybrid teaching. We want to provide our faculty with as many tools as you need to make a successful transition to remote or hybrid teaching and learning. Depending on the type of course you teach, this can be more of a challenge for some classes than others, and we are doing everything we can to be part of the solution.

Finally, I want you to know that we are committed to holding regular events such as Wednesday’s forum to provide timely, transparent and interactive updates. It’s important to know not just what is happening, but why it is happening, while also providing a forum for addressing concerns and asking questions. So if you couldn’t make the last one, I hope you can make the next.

Take care, stay safe and mask up.

Sincerely,

Joe Steinmetz, Ph.D.
Chancellor

Archive

February 8, 2021 Vaccination update: Second doses planned January 27, 2021 Recording of panel discussion available January 26, 2021 Appointments for new groups of employees January 22, 2021 Appointments required for vaccination January 22, 2021 Panel to discuss respons, vaccine rollout January 21, 2021 Eligibility letters sent to employees January 16, 2021 Patience requested, Phase 1-B will take time January 13, 2021 Most employees eligible for vaccination January 5, 2021 Drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic December 16, 2020 Spring COVID-19 Response Guide November 20, 2020 Get tested before the break October 8, 2020 Staying the course after Thanksgiving September 30, 2020 Drive-thru flu vaccines September 22, 2020 Cases decline September 16, 2020 On-campus events resume September 9, 2020 Contact tracing, self-reporting September 4, 2020 On-campus events suspended September 2, 2020 Self-reporting, reporting violations, dashboard August 31,2020 COVID-19 testing, drive-thru clinic August 20, 2020 Health kits distibution August 14, 2020 Keep Teaching resource launches July 17, 2020 Masks required June 1, 2020 Return to Campus Guide May 22, 2020 Fall plans being finalized May 12, 2020 Essential research allowed May 4, 2020 CARES Act funding distribution plans April 30, 2020 Looking ahead to the fall April 20, 2020 CARES Act April 8, 2020 Credits, tuition, commencement April 2, 2020 Determined to help March 25, 2020 Adjusting to a new normal (video) March 23, 2020 First COVID-19 case involving U of A community March 18, 2020 First COVID-19 case reported in NWA March 12, 2020 In-person classes suspended March 11, 2020 University travel suspended March 11, 2020 First COVID-19 case reported in Arkansas