Letter from the Chancellor: September 2, 2020

Dear U of A community:

As everyone should know by now, we are in a public health emergency that requires we look out for each other. And it’s imperative that we act accordingly: Wear face coverings. Wash hands. Physically distance yourself from others. Avoid crowds. And if you think you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you need to quarantine and get tested ASAP. If you test positive, then isolate yourself. If you test positive off campus, then self-report (This is required for all.) and self-isolate. These are the things we know will keep us safe and the virus from spreading.

Unfortunately, the growing number of university-affiliated cases suggests too many people still aren’t taking the virus seriously by taking the necessary precautions. I find this deeply concerning, especially as we receive emails from students who fear for their safety. Regarding the recent spike, one student wrote us, “This is absolutely terrifying for me and any other student who has immunocompromised family members or [may be immunocompromised] themselves."

No one should have to feel this way because others don’t want to be inconvenienced by safety precautions.

What do you need to do? Set a good example with your behavior. Hold each other accountable by reporting risky behavior to Report.uark.edu. We want to hear your concerns, and we will follow up on them. You also need to listen to the experts — not friends, family, colleagues or strangers on social media who may be well intentioned but are nevertheless trafficking in rumors. We’ve heard anecdotal reports that students are being encouraged to get tested at private hospitals off campus (or worse, not get tested at all) in hopes it won’t be reported to the university, perhaps because these students fear they will be sent home.

The truth is we don’t want to send you home. We would rather find you a place to quarantine on campus or an apartment if that’s the best option. We want to take care of you. Also, these cases will be reported to campus eventually, so trying to hide your affiliation with the university only increases the potential danger to others. This is not the time for keeping secrets. This is the time to do the right thing.

We are deeply concerned about the health and safety of our students, our faculty and our staff, and we are monitoring the situation with great care. Many people want to know what our threshold for pivoting to 100% remote classes. We don’t have a specific trigger point. Instead, we’re tracking a number of variables, including the positivity rate on campus and in the community, as well as the status of our health system, which is categorized as “available” currently. I know people don’t like to read long emails, so I highly encourage you to stay abreast of the latest information here. You can also find the latest update on testing on our dashboard, but understand that many of these cases may have been contracted elsewhere. And most of those who are isolating or are in quarantine are doing so off campus.

The U of A and the Arkansas Department of Health are holding free drive-thru COVID-19 testing across from Baum-Walker Stadium at the corner of S. Razorback Road and 15th Street from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, September 2-3. Students who have symptoms and known exposures will be prioritized. A student ID is required.

Finally, this Friday at 10 a.m. interim provost and vice chancellor for student and academic affairs Charles Robinson will be hosting a virtual panel we’re calling: “Fall Forum: Coping with COVID-19.” Panelists will include medical experts from the Arkansas Department of Health and Pat Walker Health Center as well as senior university administrators who are up to date on the latest information. I encourage you to register to attend and learn more about what’s going on and get your questions answered by experts.

Again, this is a public health emergency. I implore you to be caring, be accountable and be part of the solution.

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