In these unprecedented and uncertain times, it is more important than ever to communicate with you frequently regarding the status of our campus, our community, and the state of higher education. In that vein, I share with you an update, followed by new campus directives and resources:
Governor Asa Hutchinson is providing daily updates on the impact of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) on the citizens, organizations, and businesses of Arkansas. During his briefing yesterday afternoon, he indicated that there have been 33 positive cases in the state, none of which are in Sebastian County. The Arkansas Department of Health also provides updated information on their website: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
By 5 p.m. today vice chancellors and supervisors on campus will notify critical staff members who should continue reporting to campus through spring break. Beginning Friday, March 20, all other employees will be allowed to either work remotely or use annual leave (as available and approved) from March 20-29, in keeping with the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce population density through social distancing.
While few staff will remain on campus after this evening, students will still have access to:
- Residence halls
- Limited dining options (to be used only by campus residents who have made arrangements with the Office of Housing and Residential Life to stay on campus during spring break.)
- The 24-hour computer labs
- The Student Health Center, which is equipped to see patients by appointment or telehealth at 479-788-7444
- The Student Counseling Clinic, which is equipped to see patients by appointment or Doxyme virtual counseling at 479-788-7398
SSC has been directed to deep clean and disinfect our campus and to effectively close those areas so they remain disinfected. You will receive a message later today with more information and instructions about this initiative. For additional information about disinfecting, please see this guidance from the Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
The State of Arkansas has activated the 2-1-1 phone line, which is a free service that connects individuals to services that may be needed in times of crisis. More information is available at https://arkansas211.org/
The UAFS COVID-19 Response webpage will continue to be updated daily with campus updates and answers to your most frequently asked questions. Please continue to check that site at https://campuslife.uafs.edu/services/health-center/covid19
The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf
Arkansas Department of Health: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/
The COVID19 disease has presented us with a fluid situation, and the information I receive from health care and government officials is updated daily. As a result, UAFS senior leaders are required to make and communicate about decisions quickly to continue our operations with the least disruption to our academic mission. During this time I ask our supervisors and academic leaders on campus to err on the side of flexibility and understanding when working with staff and faculty members who are attempting to work and teach remotely, often for the first time. Please continue to review our university website, university email, and social media accounts for updates and information.
As always, your health and safety are of utmost importance, and as your chancellor, I will do all I can to protect them both.
Terisa C. Riley
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith