Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
The University of Arkansas has joined a growing list of schools that have suspended in-person classes in reaction to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Officials on Thursday announced that classes would shift online or be delivered through an alternate method for the remainder of the semester beginning Monday, March 16.
“While no members of the university community have been diagnosed with COVID-19, we continue to prepare for that potential while working to complete the current academic semester,” UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz wrote in a message sent to the campus community. “With this in mind, we are suspending in-person classes effective immediately.”
The school had previously announced that instructors should be prepared to conduct courses online by no later than March 30.
Steinmetz said the campus will not be closed, and that university operations will continue.
“Housing, dining and other services continue to be provided,” said Steinmetz. “However, students may choose to return to their family residence for the remainder of the semester.”
Other schools that have suspended on-campus activities include Vanderbilt University, the University of Michigan and Harvard University.
Message from UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz
Dear University of Arkansas Community,
Your health is our top priority. While no members of the university community have been diagnosed with COVID-19, we continue to prepare for that potential while working to complete the current academic semester.
With this in mind, we are suspending in-person classes effective immediately and will move to an all-online or other alternative method of course delivery starting Monday, March 16th and continuing through the remainder of the semester.
To be clear, this is not a closure. University operations continue. Housing, dining and other services continue to be provided. However, students may choose to return to their family residence for the remainder of the semester.
What do faculty need to do now to prepare?
With no in-person classes the rest of today and Friday, faculty members should use this time to prepare to deliver courses online starting Monday, March 16th. Here are some resources to help facilitate that process:
The university’s Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support (TIPS) Center offers contingency planning guidance for faculty to help deliver content to students even when they cannot attend physical classes due to an outbreak, illness or inclement weather.
Instructors can also request departmental workshops, one-on-one support and receive Blackboard course information by sending a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instructors can also access articles, tutorials and other resources for guidance.
The Wally Cordes Teaching and Faculty Support Center also provides a list of faculty resources for coping with the pandemic.
Communicate your plans and next steps to your students as soon as possible. They will expect to hear from you.
Also, please work with your students to help ensure that they are able to access the courses you will be delivering wherever they may be – on campus or otherwise.
What do students need to do now to prepare?
Students should be on the lookout for communication from instructors about the logistics of the move to the online delivery of classes. Be patient as some instructors will need some time – possibly into the weekend – to test and practice before providing more finalized details ahead of Monday’s switch to the online delivery of classes.
Work with your instructors to ensure that you will have access to the class content online wherever you may be – on campus or otherwise.
Make sure you have updated your cell phone information in UA Connect in case we need to contact you directly via text with any updates.
The move to the online or alternate delivery of classes does not currently impact housing, dining or other services. However, while completing classes online, students may choose to return to their family residence for the remainder of the semester.
Please continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures moving forward, especially in places like the library, computer labs and recreational facilities.
Information about students with clinical placements will be provided soon.
How does this impact staff members?
Regular university operations will continue as scheduled as this is not a closure.
At this time, the move to an all-online method of academic course delivery does not directly impact staff members other than those who will be assisting students and faculty adjust to the all-online method of course delivery.
Please continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures moving forward.
If you have questions, please reach out to your supervisor.
We should also all work to minimize unnecessary gatherings of groups of people on campus for the remainder of the semester. I understand that this move will create many challenges for us all. The coming weeks will require a great deal of flexibility and understanding as we all work through this together. Please remain supportive, respectful and empathetic to one another as we move forward.
And continue to practice preventive measures to protect yourself and others from the virus including practicing social distancing. Health, wellness and prevention information, FAQs, and the latest updates continue to be added to the university’s Coronavirus Update site: https://health.uark.edu/coronavirus/.
I appreciate all you do,
Joe Steinmetz, Ph.D.