Letter from the Chancellor: July 17, 2020

Dear U of A Community:

In light of this week’s Board of Trustees’ meeting, I wanted to take a moment to update you on plans being put in place for everyone’s return to campus next month. As the fall semester approaches, I know many are concerned about what campus will look like in terms of health and safety. New polices and plans are now providing some clarity.

First, the board passed a resolution on Wednesday directing us to implement a face covering policy that, at a minimum, requires masks in buildings where physical distancing of more than six feet can't be assured. On our campus, that’s virtually every building. The upshot is, unless your building or classroom is an exception, everyone – students, faculty, staff and visitors — should plan on wearing a mask inside university facilities. The use of appropriate face coverings — face mask or shield, if a mask cannot be worn for medical reasons — is important for the health and well-being of our campus community.

As such, we expect our community to comply with the use of face coverings in all required settings. We hope we don’t have to enforce this but are prepared to have educational conversations if necessary. This may also mean instituting Code of Student Conduct violations or utilizing our Progressive Discipline Policy for employees.

It’s pretty simple: I protect you. You protect me. We protect each other.

To help you prepare for this requirement, personal protection kits have been ordered and will soon be assembled and will be distributed to all faculty, staff and students.  These kits will include masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting materials and thermometers. Some face shields will be available for those who cannot wear masks for personal health reasons.

Reporting and quarantine protocols are also being finalized for when a positive case is reported on campus. This will include information about what notifications to expect if a colleague, employee or student in your class becomes infected.

We are developing a comprehensive contact tracing program to include all students. We are aiming to include faculty, staff, and potentially visitors, as well. Through our Pat Walker Health Center and the campus emergency manager (currently, the UAPD's Matt Mills) we are working with the Arkansas Department of Health to develop the program and training. We will deploy nursing and public health students who will receive internship credit and clinical hours. Creating our own ADH-approved protocol will improve our community’s agility in responding to infections and quickly isolating others who may have been exposed. Our goal is to have this ready one week before classes start. This will be important in the event any member of our community tests positive, as it will ensure those who were in close contact — whether in classes, dorms, dining halls, etc. — are notified in a timely manner.

The Provost's Office is sending an email to students regarding changes to schedules that will reflect a new blended approach to classes. Locations of classes may change to larger venues to facilitate social distancing. Some will be shifted to online-only or split between online and in-person attendance. For larger classes, students may be alternating between in-person and distance learning. All in-person classes will also be recorded in the event a student needs to self-isolate or quarantine — ensuring they can stay on top of their studies. A Zoom contract is being finalized to accommodate this effort. Finally, we want to encourage students to continue to check for schedule changes through UAConnect, as some locations may change in the coming weeks and some classes may be shifting to on-line status.

In other related news, the Provost’s Office is completing plans that embrace maximizing the safety of our campus community. The details will be shared, but please know that faculty who desire to teach remotely will be allowed to manage their classes in that format. Others who prefer to teach face-to-face and/or hybrid courses will be supported with social distancing, mandatory masking, face shields and an enhanced classroom cleaning protocols managed by Facilities Management.

In addition, in accordance with the Return to Campus phases previously articulated, employees who can conduct their work effectively on a remote basis, as determined by the supervisor, should continue to do so. Our overall goal is to minimize the number of employees on campus while the pandemic is ongoing wherever possible.

All faculty and staff should also be doing daily health checks through Workday. COVID-19 certification notifications have started going out to supervisors’ Workday in-boxes each evening at 10 p.m. to provide an update on the status of employees in their area. Please get in the habit of doing this so we can have an accurate, daily snapshot of how our campus is doing. (We’re also exploring the Android version of this!)

Finally, some facilities are starting to reopen on campus.

  • The west side of the Arkansas Union is now open. The Food Court opens Aug. 10
  • University Libraries are open for pick-up services July 20 and fully open Aug. 10
  • University Recreation is open with limited hours of operation and activities.

These are just a few recent developments. You can continue to find the latest, in-depth updates at health.uark.edu/coronavirus

I hope this allays some concerns about the upcoming semester. Please know that the health and safety of our campus community will continue to be at the forefront of our planning efforts.

Joe Steinmetz, Ph.D.
Chancellor

Archive

March 1, 2022 Campus Mask Guidance Update from Chancellor Robinson February 17, 2022 COVID-19 Update from Chancellor Robinson February 15, 2022 Employee Questions Answered: Virtual HR Q&A Recording Now Available January 21, 2022 Message Regarding Masking Requirements From Provost Martin January 19, 2022 Recording Now Available of Spring Semester Town Hall January 17, 2022 Spring 2022 Info: Message from PWHC Medical Director Dr. Huda Sharaf January 14, 2022 Mass Testing Clinic for COVID-19 Scheduled to Start On Campus Jan. 18 January 14, 2022 Indoor Mask Guidance Updated for Spring 2022 Semester January 13, 2022 Quarantine and Isolation Procedures Updated for Campus Community January 12, 2022 Spring 2022 Update From Chancellor Robinson January 7, 2022 Campus Safety Message from Dr. Huda Sharaf January 5, 2022 Self-Report Positive COVID-19 Test Results Including Home Tests January 5, 2022 Spring 2022 Information December 14, 2021 Students Earn Rewards As a Part of Vaccination Incentive Program October 19, 2021 Campus COVID-19 Dashboard Now Updated Weekly October 7, 2021 U of A Employees Eligible for Pfizer Boosters September 7, 2021 Get Vaccinated, Get Rewarded: Initial Student Winners Receive Awards August 25, 2021 First Week Welcome and Enrollment News August 20, 2021 Mask, Class Attendance Requirements for Faculty August 18, 2021 Multiple COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics Offered Across Campus Starting Aug. 18 August 17, 2021 Recording Now Available of Fall Semester Q&A August 11, 2021 University Implements Mask Requirement Indoors August 5, 2021 Support for Local Decisions Regarding Masks July 30, 2021 Recording Now Available of Fall Semester Faculty Forum July 23, 2021 Unvaccinated individuals are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 July 20, 2021 Encouraging Vaccination May 21, 2021 Campus COVID-19 Masking, Social Distancing Guidance Updated April 28, 2021 Recording of Faculty-Focused Panel on Fall Return to Campus April 15, 2021 Recording of Staff Returning to Campus Panel Discussion April 12, 2021 Mask Use Continues, Vaccinations Available March 31, 2021 NWA Council to Host COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Razorback Stadium March 30, 2021 Vaccine Appointments Open to Students 18 and Over March 24, 2021 Staff: Plan for 100 Percent Return to Campus by June 14 March 23, 2021 Preparing for Traditional Face-to-Face Fall March 18, 2021 Plans for Summer and Fall March 9, 2021 Vaccinations Now Available at PWHC February 18, 2021 Grading Policy/Course Withdrawal Updates February 16, 2021 Employees Eligible for Vaccinations from Multiple Providers 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