Letter from the Chancellor #1: March 11, 2020

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dear University of Arkansas Community: 

Like me, you are probably monitoring the latest coronavirus developments with concern. While the University of Arkansas has not yet had a confirmed case of COVID-19, the first presumptive positive case has been reported in southern Arkansas. We are already feeling the impact of the outbreak. I want to let you know that we are taking coronavirus very seriously and making plans in the event it spreads to our region or to campus.

The university’s COVID-19 Response Team is monitoring the latest public health information regarding the outbreak and meeting regularly to consider next steps. Recommendations from the CDC, Arkansas Department of Health, which we are in regular communication with, and the university will likely change given the evolving situation. We are also monitoring guidance and decisions from other universities and associations with the understanding that any guidance or plan we implement needs to be right for the University of Arkansas, and in the best interests of the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.  

All updates to university requirements or recommendations regarding the outbreak are being added to our Coronavirus Update site: health.uark.edu/coronavirus. The site includes answers to many frequently asked questions, but if you have questions or concerns that have not been addressed, please send them to feedback@uark.edu or direct them to your department chair or unit leader. 

We have empowered leaders of colleges, schools and units to do as they deem fit when it comes to postponing, suspending or even canceling some events. If campus leaders decide restrictions beyond what the university is currently requiring or recommending are in the best interests of our students, faculty and staff due to the specifics of individual situations, then we encourage them to do what they think is appropriate. 

If you are responsible for a gathering or event on campus, please consider these criteria when considering rescheduling or a potential cancellation:

  • Is rescheduling or cancellation solely the decision of my unit/area or are there others who must be involved in the decision?
  • Are attendees mostly local or are they from areas which have been more directly affected by COVID-19?
  • Does the potential gathering include a significant proportion of high-risk groups, as defined by the CDC (underlying health conditions, ages of 60+)?
  • How many are expected to attend?
  • Is the event scheduled before the end of the semester?
  • Are speakers and/or attendees already cancelling?
  • Can the event be conducted online?
  • Are there any contractual obligations involved? If so, please contact the Office of Legal Counsel before making your final decision.

Please also consider CDC guidance for preparing for large events.

On-campus classes continue at this time. In addition, we are asking faculty to prepare and practice conducting courses online now in order to have the campus ready for the potential of delivering all classes online or via alternate delivery by March 30th if needed. I understand that preparing for this eventual possibility will require a great deal of effort and adaptability from all of us but we must be prepared. The confirmation of a case COVID-19 within our campus community or in the Fayetteville community are currently the primary scenarios being considered that would trigger the actual suspension of on-campus classes.

Finally, I encourage everyone to remain supportive, respectful, and empathetic to one another as we move forward through this difficult situation. We’re all in this together. 

Please stay safe and we’ll continue to keep you updated on how this rapidly evolving situation may impact our campus moving forward.

Thank you for all you do,

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