The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith announced Friday that spring break will be two weeks and will begin Monday (March 16). The move is a response to the growing nationwide spread of COVID-19.
In a message to students Friday (March 13) morning, Dr. Terisa Riley, UAFS chancellor, told students there would be no on campus classes for the week of March 16-20 though practicums, clinicals and online classes will continue that week. Spring break will be as scheduled from March 23-27. An announcement will be made regarding a decision to return to campus classes or move to remote offerings and virtual instruction on March 26. Classes will resume one way or the other on March 30.
Decisions were made in an interest to control the spread of COVID-19.
“As I indicated in my message sent earlier this week, the senior leadership and emergency management team at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 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,” Riley said in the message.
At this time, no members of the UAFS community have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and there is no evidence of exposure on the campus.
“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,” the message said.
UAFS will continue to provide concurrent enrollment courses and WATC/Regional Workforce Grant courses while public schools in the area continue to provide face-to-face instruction. Neither Fort Smith Public Schools or Van Buren Public Schools have announced closing or on-line only instruction at this time.
“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,” Riley said in the message.
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Little Rock and UAMS have all cancelled in-person classes. UA-Fayetteville has cancelled in-person classes though the end of the spring semester, though housing, dining and other university operations and services will continue to be open. UALR moved classes online until further notice and all activities were cancelled until April 30.