Letter from the Chancellor: March 23, 2021
Dear Undergraduate and Graduate Students,
Hard to believe, but we’re already well past the halfway point of the spring semester. Lots of work yet to do, but today I would like to look forward a bit and share our plans for the summer and fall.
More than 6,000 faculty, staff and students have already been vaccinated through the university while many others are securing vaccination appointments on their own. Thousands of students also became eligible for the first time when Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the latest expansion of the state vaccination rollout, Phase 1-C. More than 13% of Arkansans have now been vaccinated. A large proportion of students may even be eligible for vaccinations before the end of this semester — which is fantastic news.
Based off these encouraging trends, we are now planning our return to campus in preparation for a face-to-face fall. This includes classes, student organization activities and events, and other related in-person functions and activities. This transition will get underway starting this summer as we keep an eye on our vaccination availability and progress, which will inevitably allow us to open more activities as warranted. Already, we are allowing events on campus, with approval and safety measures.
While many faculty, staff and students have already returned to campus, those numbers will continue to grow this summer, with our entire employee population back by mid-summer. While things may never be exactly the same as they were before, we expect to achieve some level of normalcy, including classrooms and workplaces at their usual capacity, as well as regular capacity crowds at sports events, public performances and lectures. Whether masks will still be needed remains to be seen as vaccination rates will be a consideration — it’s just too early to say at this point, but we know it’s good practice.
For now, we will maintain mask use and social distancing protocols, and anticipate doing so through summer classes. But falling infection rates and current vaccination trends justify optimism, and we fully expect a return to a vibrant and face-to-face fall. As students begin to look ahead to fall registration, I wanted to take a moment to share the good news with you so you can start planning.
Joe Steinmetz, Ph.D.