Some Arkansas universities prepare to move classwork online amid coronavirus concerns

Coronavirus

UPDATE:

University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical college has announced they will close campuses until March 30.

Read statement from Pulaski Technical below.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARK.– Due to an abundance of caution in response to the developing international health crisis related to coronavirus, or COVID-19, all University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College sites will close at the end of the day Wednesday, March 11 until at least Monday, March 30.

No confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, have been identified among any campus faculty, students, or staff.

All face-to-face college instruction will be cancelled for March 12 to March 29. Online and hybrid classes will continue to meet as scheduled. Hybrids will operate on a fully online environment. Spring break is March 21- 29.

UA – PTC staff will continue to report to work. However, any staff members who are ill or concerned about the Covid19 implications are encouraged to take leave. Little Learners Academy daycare will close to children until March 30.

“Many UA-PTC face-to-face classes are hands-on and are not supported by the online learning environment, so we have elected to postpone classes until we believe it is safe for us to meet normally.” said UA-PTC Chancellor Margaret Ellibee. “With the temporary cancellation of classes, we treat the situation much like an inclement weather situation, so we will extend the length of the instruction time this semester, commensurate with the days we cancel classes. The safety of UA – Pulaski Tech students, faculty, staff and visitors is our top priority.”

UA-PTC is potentially dealing with one presumptive COVID-19 case related to the patient identified in Pine Bluff, when a medical professional with a relationship to a UA-PTC employee at Little Rock – South site returned home after having treated the presumptively positive patient. Though the employee has shown no symptoms, the employee has been advised to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. A second potential case concerns a respiratory therapy student who treated a patient who is currently being tested for COVID-19. 

Proactively, custodial services staff will perform a deep cleaning of UA-PTC buildings, in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. In cooperation with the office of the Governor, the Arkansas Department of Health, CDC, UA System and other agencies, the UA-PTC Response Team is monitoring the status of the virus and its impact on college operations.

All scheduled campus activities, including student programs, outside events, and CHARTS events are cancelled until at least Monday, March 30. This includes the Larkin Poe concert scheduled for March 14. All college-related travel by employees or students is likewise suspended. Any changes to this timeline will be posted to the college website, as well as sent via email to campus email addresses, and will be communicated to the media through the office of public relations.

Updates specific to the Coronavirus and its effects on UA – Pulaski Tech can be accessed at https://www.uaptc.edu/publichealth. Any and all media inquiries should be directed to Tim Jones, director of public relations and marketing at (501) 812-2760 or htjones@uaptc.edu

UPDATE:

UAPB has announced that they will offer only online class until March 30 due to precautions for the coronavirus.

Read the statement below; along with other universities that have announced plans for coronavirus precautions.

Pine Bluff, AR (March 10, 2020) – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) officials announced that the institution will offer online only instruction until Monday, March 30. There have been no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) identified among any campus faculty, students, or staff.

All faculty are directed to use Blackboard so the institution can continue to provide high-quality instruction. The institution plans to resume in-class instruction on Monday, March 30, 2020 and will continue to monitor any developments that surface.

All scheduled campus activities, including student programs, and athletic events are canceled until Monday, March 30. All university-related travel by employees or students is likewise suspended. Mid-terms will be rescheduled after face-to-face classes resume.

A potential case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified at Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) in Pine Bluff and a test has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for testing as a possible case of COVID-19. The case is being treated by the Arkansas Department of Health as presumed positive. The CDC test could be officially confirmed within three to four days.

Eleven nursing students participating in clinicals and two faculty members are believed to have had indirect contact with the patient who tested positive. Arkansas Department of Health Director Nate Smith says the university risk to faculty, staff and students is low, however, the institution will err on the side of caution and start online delivery of courses.

Any further updates will be posted at www.uapb.edu/coronavirus.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University are taking steps to move all classwork online in response to the spread of coronavirus.

The U of A announced on Wednesday that its asking staff and students to prepare and practice conducting courses online in order to be ready for “the potential of delivering all classes online or via alternate delivery by March 30th if needed.”

The university says the confirmation of a COVID-19 case within the campus community or Fayetteville is the primary scenario that would trigger the actual suspension of on-campus classes.

Click here to stay up-to-date with the university’s response to the coronavirus.

Arkansas announced its first presumptive case of coronavirus, a patient in Pine Bluff, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Arkansas State University officials said Wednesday it is time to enter a new phase of operational plans.

Chancellor Kelly Damphousse sent the following letter to faculty and students:

Dear Red Wolves:
I want to follow up with you about news related our coronavirus response planning as it directly affects you.

This afternoon, I met with our Provost, the deans, with the chair of our Chair’s Council, the president and vice-president of the Faculty Senate, and the president of the Staff Senate. As you know, we have been encouraging our instructors to prepare to transition all face-to-face classes to all-online. At this time, we have not decided if we are going to make that transition, but the group recommended that the university proceed with an all-campus trial of online class delivery for next Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18.

All classes will meet as scheduled on Monday, March 16, prior to the online trial. I want to stress to you that classes next Tuesday and Wednesday are not cancelled. They will simply be offered online so that we can test our readiness in case we do have to transition to all-online. Your instructors will provide more specific information about how your class will work in the next couple of days.

The only classes that will meet as regularly scheduled next week are labs that cannot be readily served by online delivery and those classes that have already scheduled an exam that cannot be performed online. If you are performing a practicum or an internship, that will not be affected and should continue as scheduled.

After next week’s all-campus test, classes will run as scheduled Thursday and Friday (March 19-20). At this time, we are not announcing any decisions about when/if we might transition to all-online instruction following spring break.

I know for some of you meeting online may be a challenge. For that reason, the university will keep its computer lab spaces open to assist those students. We will also be continuing our enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of these spaces. Indeed, the entire campus will be open (including housing, the library, the cafeteria, and the counseling and student health centers), and all other currently scheduled on-campus activities will continue as scheduled.

In closing, rumors are always out there about what may or may not happen next. Keep an eye on the university’s official website, and on your official university email account for notices from my office. One thing that I will add here is that several of our graduating seniors have asked me about commencement. At this time, we have no plans to cancel or postpone graduation. We will do everything we can to keep commencement going as planned. But I want also be very clear – we are in uncharted territory here. Graduation is two months away and a lot can happen between now and then (and I pray that it changes for the better as quickly as possible). In the end, my every decision about A-State operations is to keep every as safe as possible.

Kelly Damphousse
Chancellor

The University of Central Arkansas in Conway has established a web page (click here) to keep students informed about its response to coronavirus. As of Wednesday, the campus was operating normally.

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