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UA officials announced a three-phase plan Monday for bringing staff and students back to campus, which includes implementing a mix of in-person and remote classes for the August intercession and fall semester.

The plan, outlined on the UofA’s coronavirus updates site, calls for the phased return of essential on-site employees, followed by limited additional employees and, finally, all employees and students.

Phase One, with a target start date of June 15, will entail the return of limited employees identified by department heads as being necessary to assist with preparations for the fall semester. Mandatory on-site employees, such as facilities management staff, will continue to work on campus. All others will continue to work remotely.

Employees returning during Phase One may include certain IT support staff, enrollment management employees, and student affairs and athletics staff members, according to the UofA. All employees chosen for return by department heads must be approved by the dean or vice-chancellor.

Phase Two, set to begin July 6, will require the return of additional employees as needed, including employees required to operate the University Libraries and Arkansas Union, which will reopen on a limited basis.

During the first portion of Phase Three, employees and students will be permitted to return to campus if they are participating in the August intersession, which begins Aug. 3. Only limited official visitors, invited by the university for specific academic or business purposes, will be allowed on campus starting Aug. 3.

All employees other than those with permission to work remotely or take a leave of absence will return to campus on or around Aug. 10.

The fall semester will begin on August 24. The academic calendar for the fall semester will remain the same as originally scheduled, aside from fall break being canceled to prevent students from catching the virus while traveling, according to a Monday UA news release.

College deans and department chairs will decide the delivery method for each of their college’s or department’s classes, according to the UA Guide to Returning to Campus.

Classes may be taught in person, in person with mandatory social distancing measures in place, or fully online. University officials are urging faculty to use online remote delivery methods for as many courses as possible, according to the guide. All face-to-face courses must be designed to enable remote attendance by students who wish to avoid in-person lectures.

Depending on the condition of the pandemic, officials may mandate a switch back to 100% remote instruction after Thanksgiving break to reduce the chance of travel-related virus spread, according to the news release.

While on campus, students, staff and visitors will be required to keep six feet of physical distance between each other when possible and to wear face coverings while in public settings and areas where social distancing is hard to maintain, according to the Guide to Returning to Campus. Those not complying with these regulations will be asked to leave campus.

UA officials will announce further plans for modifications to housing and dining procedures, Greek Life recruitment practices, University Recreation facility availability, transportation services, Arkansas Union hours and event/gathering restrictions as COVID-19 working groups finalize decisions, according to the Guide to Returning to Campus.

Sarah Komar is the news editor for The Arkansas Traveler, where she previously worked as a staff reporter in 2019 and early 2020.

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