Spring 2022 Information: January 5, 2022
Spring 2022 Information
January 5, 2022
The purpose of this message is to update the campus on our COVID planning as we have returned to campus for the Spring 2022 semester, which started Monday with intersession. As a campus we continue to watch the spread of the coronavirus throughout our community and across the nation. While the majority of higher education institutions are returning to campus in the same manner as last semester, we have seen reports that some institutions in Arkansas and beyond are delaying the start of the spring semester while others are starting the semester virtually.
At this time, we are staying the course and are planning for a semester as we ended the last:
- Masking is required inside the classrooms at all times and inside educational and general-purpose buildings when at least 6-feet of distance cannot be maintained.
- We began intersession and will begin the regular semester with in-person instruction where planned.
- Offices and departments set for opening Jan. 3 have done so under their normal operational status and are set to welcome students.
- University guidelines for isolation time, for those who receive a positive test result, as well as quarantine time, for unvaccinated individuals with close contact to positive cases, remains at 10 days. However, we are evaluating the new CDC guidance for the general public (isolation times shortened from 10 to five days, with five days of diligent masking following) and awaiting additional guidance specific to institutions of higher education.
- We continue to strongly encourage vaccination and booster shots, which we know to be among the best strategies for mitigation of the COVID-19 virus, along with frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer and masks.
- Supplies including disposable masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and sanitizing spray are available. Employees should ask building executives to contact central supply for replenishment. Student supply kits are available for pickup at the information desk in the Arkansas Union during normal operating hours.
We will continue to communicate and reinforce these protocols including collaborating with students and student leaders to help spread the word.
We have been successful on our campus in keeping positive case numbers low by following this guidance for our safe return in the spring and the fall of 2021. Unlike other campuses, we have not relaxed our classroom masking protocols and feel that has been an important factor in keeping our campus safe. In addition, you are encouraged to continue safe COVID practices when away from campus.
We will continue to monitor the infection rate of the campus community and the surrounding region, as well as the burden on our medical community, especially hospitalizations. As of Wednesday, Jan. 5, Northwest Arkansas hospitals were collectively caring for 76 COVID patients – the all-time high was Aug. 11 when 173 patients were hospitalized throughout NWA.
Our most recent data from the Arkansas Department of Health shows 73% of our employees are completely vaccinated (83.5% have had one dose), while 82.5% of our Arkansas students have had at least one dose of vaccine and 68% are fully vaccinated.
The COVID-19 Response Team met this morning and continues to meet weekly to discuss these conditions and implications for our campus.
Thank you for your patience, flexibility, and understanding during this time. As we near two full years of the pandemic, we know you’ve sacrificed a lot and may have experienced a great deal of disruption and associated stress. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and are deeply appreciated.
Thank you and have a great semester.
Charles Robinson, Interim Chancellor
Terry Martin, Interim Provost
Matt Mills, Emergency Management