The Arkansas State University Jonesboro campus will provide nearly all of its classes and semester final tests virtually when school convenes following the Thanksgiving Day break. ASU Chancellor Kelly Damphousse emailed the student body to alert students about the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the semester, the university outlined several options it might pursue if the virus spread got worse. Damphousse noted that the White House Coronavirus Task Force has identified Jonesboro and Craighead County as a red zone, the highest designation given for virus spread.
Instructors that want to still hold in-person class will have to receive specual permission from the provost to do so. Students will be allowed to live on campus until the semester is completed.
The chancellor emphasized the campus is not closed and employees will continue to work.
“After our initial peak of COVID cases at the beginning of the semester, you adjusted your habits and you reduced the rapid spread of the virus on our campus. You took on additional duties when your colleagues were not able to come to work. You made it work and the proof is in the relatively low spread of coronavirus on our campus for most of the semester,” he said.
The chancellor also added “despite your hard work on our campus, I have grown increasingly concerned about what is happening beyond our campus – locally and statewide. COVID-related hospitalizations in northeast Arkansas, for example, more than doubled in October.”
All residence halls, the Acansa Dining Hall, the Reng Student Union, the Student Health Center, the Dean B. Ellis Library, student academic support services (e.g., The Learning Commons), and the Red W.O.L.F. Center will remain open until Dec. 18.
The other institution of higher learning on the ASU campus will go virutal too.
The New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University stated the medical school would move to an all-virtual platform starting Nov. 23, and students will not return to campus until the week of Jan. 18. Additionally, all staff and faculty will be instructed to work remotely during that time period.
“From the beginning of the semester, our plan has always been to shift our students virtually over the Thanksgiving break,” said Shane Speights, D.O., Dean of NYITCOM at Arkansas State. “As our leadership planned for what we knew would be an academic year unlike any other, we decided several weeks ago that we would likely implement a fully remote plan that included our staff and faculty.”
“We are entering a time in our state and country where we are seeing and expecting to see a significant increase in viral spread over the coming weeks and months. The recent trends confirmed our need to adjust. We’re very fortunate that our institution is very technology driven, so we have the infrastructure in place to make this transition seamlessly, just as we did when the pandemic initially hit this spring,” he said.