UA officials have no plans to close down or cancel all on-campus gatherings and events despite in-person classes being suspended for the remainder of the semester, said Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Relations Mark Rushing at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
The UofA’s COVID-19 response team is monitoring CDC recommendations and developing contingency plans for multiple possible scenarios, Rushing said.
“Our students and faculty have worked really hard this semester in the classes to this point,” Rushing said, “so we want to minimize the impact to those classes as much as possible. One of our goals, while thinking about the health and wellbeing of our population, is also to try and complete this academic semester.”
Although there is no official ban on non-class events, the administration is discouraging large on-campus gatherings, Rushing said. The SEC has suspended all sporting events through March 30.
The university has canceled all school-sponsored out-of-state travel, and Rushing said the administration is urging students to reconsider private cross-country and international spring break travel as well.
Rushing said the most likely scenario that would trigger a complete shutdown of the university would be the confirmation of a case of COVID-19 on campus or in Fayetteville, although nothing is definitive.
“All of the questions haven’t been answered at this point,” Rushing said.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson confirmed the state’s first presumptive case Wednesday morning, and there are now six confirmed cases in Arkansas, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
California, New York and Washington have the most cases, with each at more than 100, according to data from state health agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida recorded the first deaths from the virus, though Washington leads with the most deaths at 14.
On March 3, the Office of the Provost issued a statement requiring all registered student travelers in countries with a CDC risk level of two or above for COVID-19 to return to the U.S. immediately. Officials urged students planning to travel for spring break to consider health risks and CDC guidance.
Administrators have given the leaders of individual colleges, schools and units leeway to cancel or postpone events as they see fit, Steinmetz said.
As of March 10, the Office of Student Activities and Headliners Committee have no immediate plans to cancel or reschedule the Springtime of Youth festival scheduled for April 25.
Guests visiting campus from a country with a CDC coronavirus level of two or higher might be required to self-isolate for two weeks, per the Arkansas Department of Health.