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Letter from UAM Chancellor on Re-Entry

July 24th, 2020 by

Peggy DossDear UAM community,

We all continue to be concerned about protecting the health and safety of faculty, students and staff for the fall semester. Your university continues to develop and revise campus plans, as needed, to minimize potential risks. I would like to update you on a few actions that have recently taken place. 

  • On July 15, the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees approved a resolution directed “each campus, division and unit to adopt a policy that, at a minimum, requires the use of cloth face coverings by students, faculty, staff and guests in university facilities where physical distancing of six-feet or more cannot be assured in accordance with guidance from state and federal health officials.” The UAM reopening plan sent to you July 1 is consistent with this resolution.
  • On July 16, Governor Hutchinson issued an executive order mandating all people in the state of Arkansas to wear face coverings in all public places where physical distancing is not possible. The mandate applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces and will go into effect Monday, July 20. A few exceptions are noted for children younger than 10 and for certain medical conditions. The face covering mandate is inclusive of people traveling in vehicles with non-household members.
  • As a result of the U of A Board of Trustees resolution and the Governor Hutchinson’s executive order,  all UAM employees, students and visitors must wear mask/face coverings inside and outside of all university facilities when social/physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible unless specific exceptions apply as are indicated in the state mandate.
  • Employees, students and visitors must also wear face coverings/masks when riding in a university vehicle when others are present in the vehicle. This includes golf carts, side by sides and/or any other form of university transportation.
  • The UAM leadership will continue to educate and encourage all of the UAM community to follow recommended and mandated safety precautions. We trust that compliance to requirements of wearing of face coverings/masks and social distancing will be abundant on our campuses. If we all do our part in following expert guidance, additional steps to enforce compliance will not be necessary.
  • UAM is finalizing Memorandums of Agreement with three local health providers to perform priority Covid-19 rapid testing and contract tracing for our campuses.  The primary health provider will be located on-site at the UAM main campus five days per week from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and will be available to serve all UAM employee and students. This entity will also provide services to our two Colleges of Technology. Rapid testing yields results in approximately fifteen minutes from the time the analysis begins. Two secondary health providers will also be available in off-campus locations for priority testing and contract tracing for our institution.  Employees and students have the option of using these services, the Arkansas Department of Health or their personal health care provider for testing.  More details will be shared with you soon through campus email.
  • On-campus quarantine and isolation space for residential students has been identified for individuals who cannot return home and are only exhibiting mild symptoms.  The Division of Student Engagement has a detailed plan to ensure the physical needs of quarantined students are met while also protecting the health of the remainder of the campus population.
  • Consistent with CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines, UAM has reporting, quarantine and notification processes in place for when a positive or presumed positive case is reported in any area of the campuses.
  • Social/physical distancing of at least six feet is required in all indoor and outdoor settings. A few exceptions for certain tasks or duties may exist. Other health and safety measures will be employed in these rare instances.
  • ALL UAM offices and locations in which visitors are allowed are required to keep a visitor log with name, date and contact information.  ALL visitors must sign-in. Thank you for sharing the responsibility of ensuring visitor log use. This is essential to maintain accurate contact tracing.
  • The self-health assessment (from the July 1 Plan) is expected by every member of the UAM community.  Anyone exhibiting symptoms of illness should not be present and should immediately see their health provider. Those asked by the Arkansas Department of Health to self-quarantine because of potential exposure are asked to take these requests seriously.
  • UAM has received its first order of personal protection equipment (PPE) and should receive a second shipment sometime within the next week.  Our PPE orders include face masks for each member of our faculty, staff, and student body, hand sanitizers, disposable gloves, protective paper gowns, face shields, thermometer strips, no-touch thermometers, plexiglass barriers, and other items to ensure a safe learning and working environment. Each faculty and staff member will receive a health and safety kit.
  • Faculty, staff and students will be provided one cloth mask; however, all employees and students are asked to bring additional masks with them and keep them clean  per CDC best practices.
  • Plexiglass barriers have been installed in high traffic areas and can be made available upon request.
  • Directional floor and stairwell signage is ordered and will soon be placed in every building to assist in guiding socially distant foot traffic.
  • The division of Student Engagement is in the process of training “health ambassadors” who will be present on campus to promote good health protocols.
  • Disinfectants will be made available in all buildings and hand sanitizing stands are in place at building entrances.  The UAM custodial staff have been trained specifically in sanitizing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They have been frequently sanitizing bathrooms, hand rails, door knobs and other high-touch surfaces both in instructional and residential spaces. Students will be encouraged to assist by sanitizing desk tops upon their arrival to the classroom.
  • Classroom space has been redesigned to ensure social distancing and all faculty lecterns have been spaced at least 12 feet from the first row of students as recommended by the Arkansas Department of Health.
  • The Office of Academic Affairs and the academic deans are working with faculty to deliver quality instruction while protecting the safety and health of faculty, staff and students.  Face-to-face with social distancing, blended and remote instruction are being utilized.  Some classes may also alternate between in-person and remote learning. Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate will be also be used to deliver real-time/synchronous instruction and to also record lectures for students who may be quarantined or in isolation. The UAM information technology and academic computing team continue to review contracts and options to ensure the availability of instructional support tools.  As always, student learning and success remains a high priority.  If needed, all classes may be transitioned to remote learning for a period of time. The flexibility and understanding to shift to and from remote instruction is a critical component of the fall reopening plan.
  • All fall activities and events including professional development week and student orientation are being evaluated and redesigned to ensure your safety and well being.
  • All UAM classes will transition to remote delivery for the final few days of the semester after the Thanksgiving break. Deans will continue to work with faculty and students to plan for that transition.
  • In the event that all instruction must be remotely delivered for a period of time, UAM will have a limited number of electronic tablets and WiFi cards for students who have limited or no access to technology and internet.

During possible periods of remote instruction, campus offices will remain open and support resources will be available to students. Residence halls will remain open unless a directive is received that dictates otherwise.

Additional information and details of our fall reopening will be shared as circumstances evolved. As the pandemic is fluid, I am extremely grateful for the ongoing understanding and flexibility of our employees and students. As a united UAM community, I know we will join in supporting the health of our colleagues and classmates.  Please join me in modeling safe health practices and reminding others to do the same in all university spaces. Together, we can make UAM a healthier and safer living, learning and working environment for everyone.

Mask Up, Weevils!

Peggy M. Doss, Ed.D.
Chancellor
University of Arkansas at Monticello

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