Friday morning University of Arkansas - Fort Smith chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley released an updated statement to students, faculty, and staff regarding preparedness and prevention efforts related to COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus 2019.) Her full statement is included below.
As I indicated in my message sent earlier this week, the senior leadership and Emergency Management Team at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus 2019) closely. The situation has evolved rapidly in Arkansas, and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to extend spring break by one week to allow us to begin practicing social distancing. This extension will enable faculty who teach in-person classes to prepare online offerings in the event the COVID-19 situation in Arkansas necessitates a campus-wide move to remote learning. Also, we will use the two weeks to deep clean and disinfect the entire campus.
For students, this means that there will be no on-campus classes from 5 p.m. Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 29. Students enrolled in practicums, clinicals, internships, and fully online courses will be expected to meet those commitments the week of March 16-20, but will not be expected to attend any on-campus classes.
To be clear, this is not a closure. University operations will continue, staff and faculty will report to campus as scheduled, and limited housing, dining, computer labs, and library services will remain in operation. In an effort to disrupt as little academic progress as possible, a decision to move classes online will not be made until Wednesday, March 26, with the hopes that students can return to campus Monday, March 30.
March 16-20: No On-Campus Classes.
(Practicums, Clinicals and Online Courses continue)
March 23-27: Spring Break
March 26: Announcement will be made regarding the decision to return to on-campus classes or move to remote offerings and virtual instruction.
March 30: Classes begin for UAFS students, either as usual or remotely.
This decision has not been made lightly and is based on guidance from the CDC, the University of Arkansas System, and the Arkansas Department of Health. With the best interest of our students, faculty, and staff in mind, we will continue to assess the best means of minimizing risk while continuing to fulfill our educational mission. In that vein, we will continue to provide concurrent enrollment courses and WATC/Regional Workforce Grant courses while public schools in our area continue to provide face-to-face instruction.
This situation is very fluid, and I know you will have questions we cannot yet answer. As updates become available, we will share important announcements through official university email accounts. We also will provide information and answers to frequently asked questions from our students, families, staff, and faculty members on our COVID-19 response website
As I have said before, anyone developing flu-like symptoms should please stay at home and contact their physicians. Faculty and instructional staff have received communication from Provost Hale who advised them to be flexible with academic assignments if students are ill, and employees who feel ill should contact their supervisors and plan to stay at home.
As a service to all Arkansans, our system partners at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are now offering free screenings for those who fear they may have COVID-19. The UAMS HealthNow platform will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to guide patients of all ages through a series of questions and next steps from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/.
Lions, you are my top priority. As your chancellor, I am committed to making the UAFS campus and community a place you feel safe, secure, and supported. I am equally committed to making sure our students are able to complete your semester and making good on the academic advancement we have promised you at UAFS.
I am deeply grateful for your patience, cooperation, and dedication to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
Take care of yourselves and those around you.
Terisa C. Riley, Ph.D.
University of Arkansas Fort Smith"
Friday, March 13, 2020
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