Phased-in Plans for Returning to Campus Announced
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A phased-in approach to resuming on-campus operations at the University of Arkansas begins June 15 with the limited return of employees on an as-needed basis to prepare for the anticipated return of students to campus in August.
The guide to Returning to Campus marks the beginning of a slow, phased-in shift from remote operations — which began in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic — back to on-campus operations over the next two months. This deliberate and moderated process was developed by the U of A’s COVID-19 Response Team with the goal of safely welcoming students back to the Hill for the Fall semester.
“Our new normal is a University of Arkansas that is creative in its approach to discovery, learning and living, and willing to make adjustments to schedules, practices and protocols all in support of the greater good and what we do best: educate students, advance discovery, and provide outreach to the world around us,” Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said. “I am proud of our students, staff and faculty for their resilience, determination and innovation in continuing our mission in the most challenging of times.”
The guide to Returning to Campus was developed with the assumption that COVID-19 will be present into the foreseeable future and that the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty is the priority. The timing for launching the return phases will be contingent upon the ongoing assessment of any federal and state guidelines and requirements that may apply.
The guide to Returning to Campus includes guidance on health and safety measures; a phased return of employees; preparation for on-campus academics and student success measures; housing, dining and campus and greek life guidelines; and guidance for events and athletics; and university-sponsored travel.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
The safe return to on-campus operations relies on each member of the U of A community exercising common sense, good judgment, and practicing the health and safety guidance contained in the university’s phased plan that is based on guidance from the state of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the safety of our community, all employees, students and visitors will be required to:
- Respect social distancing measures (6 feet).
- Wear face coverings or masks while in public environments on campus where social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Practice frequent hand-washing hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
Guidelines for symptom monitoring and self-assessment, types of approved face coverings, as well as information on when not to come to campus also can be found in the plan.
PREPARING FOR FALL SEMESTER
The U of A is creating contingency plans for several modes of instruction in the fall in addition to face-to-face instruction to provide flexibility, if needed. Some classes will be moved to larger classrooms and traditionally larger classes may be shifted to smaller sizes or involve a mix of instruction styles to ensure the health and safety of our students.
The university plans to follow the academic calendar that has already been established with any contingency planning made around that calendar with two exceptions:
- Fall break is being canceled to reduce the chance of the virus being spread by students who travel and return from other locations.
- The university may go to 100 percent remote instruction after the Thanksgiving break, again to reduce the chance of travel-related spread of the virus on campus. Decisions regarding post-Thanksgiving instruction will be made at a later date based on the state of the virus.
Move-in, dining, Greek recruitment and other start-of-semester activities will be adjusted to prioritize safety through a phased-in move-in procedure, enhanced disinfecting protocols, specialized programming for gatherings and adjusted dining hours to minimize crowds.
While these plans and new protocols have been developed to minimize risk with a goal of returning to on-campus operations in the fall, the university will be prepared to shift back to a remote environment if conditions change.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.
This story also appeared in the University of Arkansas News publication.