The Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) will move its classes online, recall third-year medical students on clinical rotations and halt tours and meetings by outside groups on the campus.
Decisions to respond to COVID-19 come from a crisis team formed by the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE), the parent organization of ARCOM. The college, located on the ACHE campus at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith, has 490 students and 128 faculty and staff.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Arkansas rose from six to nine between Thursday and Friday, with one patient not having a link to possible exposure while outside the state, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday (March 13).
As of early Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 41 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 (coronavirus), with 1,629 confirmed cases. The ongoing pandemic outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States.
“At this time there are no known cases of COVID-19 on our campus and, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not issued guidance pertaining to college operations, ACHE is monitoring the actions of sister institutions nationally and is similarly considering continuing to operate through online classes. For the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, we are cancelling outside tours and meetings from taking place on our campus,” ACHE President Brian Kim said in a statement.
Specifically, ACHE officials announced four primary changes in response to COVID-19 concerns.
• The master of science in Biomedicine shall move to online classes beginning on March 16.
• ARCOM will move to online classes for second year students beginning March 16 and for first year students beginning March 17.
• Effective March 13, ARCOM will immediately recall all third- year medical students who are currently on clinical rotations in hospitals and clinics throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.
• Campus tours and meetings by outside groups have been canceled.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and taking extra precautions for cleaning and disinfecting our buildings,” ACHE CEO Kyle Parker said. “While our campus is currently open, our outstanding technology is in place as we go online utilizing our virtual classroom learning. We are one of the most technologically advanced medical schools in the country and we had planned for these types of contingencies early in our planning before the school was built.”
ACHE also created a page on its website for COVID-19 information and updates.
Dr. Rance McClain, dean of ARCOM, said even if students could continue with clinical rotations, there would not be enough protective masks and other medical supplies for the students.
Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) is a private, non-profit institution located on 350 acres at Chaffee Crossing. ACHE’s first college, the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) welcomed its inaugural class of 150 osteopathic medical students in August 2017. Construction is now complete on the new 66,000 square foot facility that will be the home to Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physician Assistant degree programs.