President Houston Davis detailed current plans regarding the fall semester to the UCA community in a campus update last week via YouTube.
“There are so many unknowns right now...Don’t take anything that I’m saying to be written in stone, what I do want to do is be honest to you about where we are,” Davis said.
Regardless of whether or not classes are online, instruction will begin on Aug. 20. All classes will be online after Thanksgiving Break on Nov. 20, and campus services and facilities will be open through finals week.
There are a number of options being considered for class instruction, like opening classes with a majority in-person and being prepared to transfer online or opening the majority of classes online with in-person classes being reserved for courses that can’t be done remotely. All courses must be ready to go online at any moment.
As of now, enrollment numbers are normal. Early housing numbers are at 99.5% capacity, and the returning Freshman rate is at 78.2%.
“Enrollments (for summer courses) were comparable to 2019. Students and teachers were both exposed to a quality online experience,” Davis said.
UCA doesn’t traditionally do many online courses.
“There is a sense among the student body and a sense among our faculty and staff that we weren’t one of those universities that threw up our hands and said ‘we don’t know what do;’ we instead rolled up our sleeves, put on our thinking caps, and we found a way to be able to see that spring semester through. We’ve successfully seen the summer semester through, and we know we’re working toward plans that are flexible, but they’re intended to keep academic quality and personal safety first and foremost,” Davis said.
Social distancing will be required, as will facial coverings when in enclosed areas or when you can’t safely distance. Masks are not required if you are in your office or dorm room or if you have a documented health condition.
All classrooms and activity spaces have new maximum capacities and operational requirements to allow for six feet of distance.
UCA has teamed up with Conway Regional, Hendrix College and Central Baptist College to create the City of Colleges testing and tracing consortia to optimize testing and tracing.
The screening will be easy, testing will be simple to arrange and results will come quickly. The Student Health Center will provide screening tools and general information to students.
Carmichael Hall as well as around 30 rooms in houses bordering campus are being reserved as quarantine and isolation spaces for students who can’t go home to do so. Students will be able to continue coursework while isolated or quarantined.
There will be stickers on the floor every six feet in some areas along with signs advertising hand washing, mask use and distancing, as well as “do not enter if” signs on every door.
Faculty and staff are thinking long-term, planning for these procedures to be in place for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year.
UCA is also trying to ensure access to vital technology by giving laptops that meet university standards to all students who need one through hardship funds, the CARES act funds and private donations.
The spring semester shed light on technological divides; over 400 students stayed on campus through finals week, many because they wouldn’t have access to either a laptop or broadband at home.