Section 2: Health and Safety

The Communicable Disease Outbreak Committee began planning for an eventual COVID-19 pandemic in early February 2020. The goal was to provide scientific and factual data regarding the diagnosis and spread of COVID-19 to the campus community. 

The committee is in constant communication with local medical providers, as well as the Arkansas Department of Health regarding cases in the Northwest Arkansas region. The committee has also created specific guidelines regarding the university’s efficient response that will be followed. 

These guidelines will be updated as appropriate and will remain in effect at least until there is a widely available reliable vaccine for COVID-19.

A successful return to campus relies on each member of the U of A community exercising common sense, good judgment, and practicing the health and safety guidance contained in this document.

Behaviors for Mitigating Risk of Transmission of COVID-19

Appropriate means of mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission for the university community requires all employees, students and visitors to:

  • Respect social distancing measures of keeping at least 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Wear face coverings or masks while on campus in public environments where social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain and at all times indoors with limited exceptions. Check here for the latest face covering requirements.
  • Practice frequent hand-washing hygiene and respiratory etiquette.

Symptom Monitoring and Self-Assessment

On a daily basis, U of A employees planning to work on campus are required to complete a certification that they have self-assessed that they are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms prior to coming to campus. The certification will be available digitally and other means as needed. If symptoms exist, employees will be directed not to come to campus and will be provided information for next steps. This will help educate people about symptoms to watch for in addition to creating a self-monitoring culture. A certification process for students is being developed and will be communicated prior to the start of the fall semester.

Temperature screening will not be a general requirement for employees or students to return to campus given medications, room temperature or walking long distances can lead to inaccurate body temperature reading; however, specific campus locations may institute additional monitoring or screening measures as required by ADH.

Who Should NOT come to Campus:

  • Anyone exhibiting symptoms of illness — if you are not feeling well, stay home and call your medical provider or Pat Walker Health Center.
  • Anyone recently diagnosed with COVID-19 in the previous 14-days.*
  • Anyone who has had contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and who has not received approval from ADH to return.
  • Non-essential visitors and guests — only essential, official visitors and guests here for academic or business purposes should be invited on campus.

*Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 can return to campus after they have satisfied the ADH requirement, which includes a 10-day self-isolation period since the start of symptoms with symptoms improving and 24 hrs of being fever free without fever reducing medications before isolation can be safely ended. (Persons hospitalized for COVID 19, will need to isolate for at least 20 days from the start of symptoms).  In some cases an ADH “Release to Return” document may be required.

Face Coverings

The use of appropriate cloth face coverings is important for the health and well-being of our campus community. Face coverings should cover both the nose and mouth.

The following requirements apply to all students, employees and visitors on campus. We anticipate that members of the campus community will cooperate with the Governor’s Executive Order and City of Fayetteville face covering requirements when off-campus, as well.

Indoors: Face Coverings Required in Campus Buildings

Face coverings are required at all times indoors on campus with the following limited exceptions:

  1. A face covering may be removed in a private office or private room when no one else is present.
  2. In residence halls, face coverings may be removed in private rooms as well as in community bathrooms for accomplishing tasks such as brushing teeth or showering.
  3. Face coverings may be removed while dining but should be worn before eating and replaced as soon as possible after eating.
  4. Face coverings may be removed during exercise in University Recreation-operated facilities as long as other UREC COVID-19 protocols are followed.
  5. Face coverings may be removed for participants during sanctioned activities such as music rehearsals and performances, Razorback Athletics workouts, practices and contests unless otherwise required by the University’s athletic conference or governing body.

Outdoors: Face Coverings Required When Social Distancing Cannot Be Maintained

Face coverings are required outdoors when social distancing of six feet can’t be assured.

We expect our community to comply with the use of face coverings in all required settings. Those not complying with use of face coverings will be asked to leave and return with a face covering. The university is prepared to enforce these requirements through educational conversations and, if necessary, instituting Code of Student Life disciplinary actions for students or utilizing progressive discipline for employees.

These requirements were developed based on guidance provided by Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s executive order requiring face coverings in all public buildings where social distancing isn’t possible and similar guidance from the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the City of Fayetteville.

Types of Face Coverings

Cloth Face Covering:

  • Homemade or commercially manufactured face coverings that are washable will help reduce the spread of respiratory droplets when talking, coughing or sneezing.
  • These masks may not be effective at preventing infection for the person wearing the mask, but they do help stop the spread to others. Since people who are infected may not show symptoms, widespread use of masks of any kind can help slow down the spread.
  • Recommended for use by non-health care workers for areas where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be consistently maintained and required in designated areas.
  • Must be washed or replaced daily. Not required when alone in an enclosed space.
  • Cloth face coverings are NOT the same as the medical facemasks, surgical masks, or respirators (such as N95 respirators) worn by health care personnel, first responders and required workers.

Disposable Mask:

  • Commercially manufactured face mask that helps reduce the spread of respiratory droplets when talking, coughing or sneezing.
  • Recommended for use in areas where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be consistently maintained and required in designated areas. Not required when alone in an enclosed space.
  • Must be thrown away and replaced daily.
  • Disposable face masks are NOT the same as the medical facemasks, surgical masks, or respirators (such as N95 respirators) worn by health care personnel, first responders and workers in other industries.

Medical & Surgical Masks:

  • Also referred to as Medical PPE. These masks should be used by only health care personnel and first responders for their protection.
  • Health care personnel and first responders should not wear cloth face coverings instead of respirators or facemasks when medical personal protection equipment is indicated.

N95 Respirators

  • Provide effective respiratory protection from airborne particles and aerosols.
  • Fit tightly around your face and filter out 95% or more of the smallest particles in the air, but only if they are fitted correctly.
  • Recommended for use by health care personnel, first responders and workers in other industries.

General Considerations

  • When using a cloth face covering, make sure:
    • The mouth and nose are fully covered
    • The covering fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps
    • You do not have any difficulty breathing while wearing the cloth face covering
    • The cloth face covering can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping
  • Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
  • Keep the covering clean.
  • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately, before putting on, after touching or adjusting, and after removing the cloth face covering.
  • Don’t share with anyone else unless it has been washed and dried first.
  • You should be the only person handling your covering.
  • Laundry instructions will depend on the cloth used to make the face covering. In general, cloth face coverings should be washed regularly (e.g., daily and whenever soiled) using water and a mild detergent, dried completely in a hot dryer, and stored in a clean container or bag.
  • Face coverings or masks are not a substitute for social distancing and should be used in addition to physical distance.

Social Distancing

Social distancing – staying at least 6-feet apart - reduces the spread of COVID-19. What does 6-feet look like? It’s like leaving enough room for two refrigerators or one Tusk V to stand between you and the person closest to you.

*Social distancing must be practiced even when face coverings and masks are also being used.*

Classes are being reconfigured to allow for social distancing, with numbered seats that are at least 6-feet apart. Flexible schedules to allow for smaller class sizes and larger venues are also being put into place. Classes will be streamed and recorded on video as well, so those who may be self-isolating will have access to their classrooms and stay on track.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water; avoid cross contamination – hand sanitizing stations will be made available in all campus buildings.
  • Avoid close contact with others.
  • Wear face coverings whenever it is not possible to maintain six feet of separation.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow, and dispose of the tissue properly.
  • Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting

Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces followed by disinfection with an EPA-registered disinfectant is a best practice measure for prevention of viral respiratory illnesses and part of the University of Arkansas’ regular routine in multiple areas of campus, including housing, transit and parking, facilities management and much more.

Restrooms will be a focus area for high use/touch disinfection throughout each day. Efforts are underway to provide touchless soap dispensers in all restrooms.

Hand sanitizer stations are located in all major entrances and in large classrooms. Additional stations may be installed in other public areas as needed.

U of A transit buses are disinfected nightly, while our facilities management staff disinfects high traffic touchpoints daily – including door handles and push plates, student desktop surfaces and classroom teaching surfaces. Similar practices are used by university housing, athletics and other common areas on campus.

Except for drinking fountains with a touch-free bottle filler, all traditional drinking fountains will be disabled until further notice. Facilities Management will work towards a prioritized and equitable plan for replacing traditional drinking fountains with bottle fill stations over the next several months.

Vulnerable Populations

It is important for the campus community to understand that some people are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 complications. Based on the current data, vulnerable populations may include:

  • People 65 years of age or older
  • Those with serious underlying health condition such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, severe obesity or moderate to severe asthma
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Other circumstances that enhance risks associated with COVID-19 exposure or illness.

Additional Information:

Procedure for On-Campus Outbreak

  • The university will follow its established guidelines and work in coordination with ADH for communicable disease response.
  • The university will cooperate with ADH for contact tracings and investigations: Once a person has been identified as having COVID-19 and a contact investigation is started by ADH, all contacts for that person will be tested; and regardless of test result, must self-quarantine for 14-days.
  • ADH will be the agency to declare an outbreak.

Once an outbreak is declared, the university will continue to follow the directions of ADH and CDC regarding any response and mitigation efforts.

See the latest updates and information regarding safety guidelines and requirements.