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Coronavirus Updates

MESSAGE FROM CHANCELLOR PHILLIP WILSON - APRIL 11

Another week that I am more than grateful to report that, to date, we still do not have anyone within the UARM community positive for COVID-19. However, our thoughts are with those who do. Each of our service counties have been impacted with the exception of Montgomery County, who remains 1 of Arkansas counties with no confirmed positive cases.

Speaking of Montgomery County, I’m pleased to announce that our IT staff in partnership with local businesses have installed parking lot WiFi access on our Mount Ida campus.  Just drive up in the parking spots nearest the front door if possible.

Here is the connection information:

Network Name:  students

Password: MntIda2011

Please remember there is also parking lot WiFi access also available in the south parking lot on the Mena campus, adjacent to the Ouachita Center.

Network name: RichMtnWifi
Password: RichMountain

In both locations, we ask that you respect social distancing guidelines and remain in your cars.

In other big news, the UA System Board of Trustees met this week and voted that both summer sessions will be taught strictly online. They also voted that all summer camps scheduled for any of its campuses will be cancelled. For Rich Mountain, this means that for 2020, there will be no Kids/Teen College.

Our faculty chamber also approved a new grading scheme for the Spring 2020 semester. We understand the hardship that this pandemic catapulted students into and thus, created the following options for students:

  • Students who earn an A, B, or C can opt to change their grade to a P, which will not calculate into the GPA but indicates passing the course.
  • Students who earn a D can opt to change their grade to a CR (credit), which will not calculate into the GPA but indicates passing the course with a D (may not meet prerequisites for certain courses).
  • Students who earn an F can opt to change the grade to an NC, which will not calculate into the GPA but indicates no credit for the course.

Next week, I will send you the proper procedure to handle any grade change.  I strongly encourage you to talk with your advisor and faculty member before you consider any grade change!! Notice the double “!!” at the end of that sentence. 

One of the greatest frustrations for so many with this pandemic is not knowing when “normal” returns or what does a post-pandemic “normal” look like. I want to know those answers as much as you do. For now, this “normal” means our campus is closed and none of our routine functions are looking quite like they normally would. We know you have questions so we’ve created a FAQs page for this time with answers and links that are very helpful: https://www.uarichmountain.edu/coronavirus-faq.

A big shout out to all of our returning students who are planning for a brighter future and have already registered for classes for #Fall2020! Thank you to our dedicated admissions and financial aid staff who continue to go above and beyond to serve our students even though our campus is closed.

Finally… WE MISS OUR STUDENTS! And, look forward to the day when we can see you in the halls, in the classrooms, in the hammocks, on the quads, and in the bleachers cheering on a new class of Bucks Athletics! But until then, #FinishStrongRM!

MESSAGE FROM CHANCELLOR PHILLIP WILSON - MARCH 28

I know that Spring Break probably didn’t look quite like you had imagined. However, I am grateful to report that we are still unaware of anyone within the Rich Mountain community being positive with COVID-19. We have continued to closely monitor the situation and remain in communication with state leaders and public health officials. We do feel that we need to continue to keep our campus closed to students and members of the community through April 17. In addition, pre-registration for returning students scheduled to begin March 30 will be postponed until April 6.

Only essential staff will be on campus next week, March 30-April 3. VC’s and directors will be in communication with non-essential staff for telecommuting work tasks. I encourage you to contact your immediate supervisor with any questions or needs.

My message for students is simple – FINISH STRONG – and I know you will. Stay current with assignments, keep in constant communication with your instructors, and do not hesitate to ask for help! They are fully committed to helping you during this transition to online courses and fully support you through this unprecedented time in our history. It’s the Rich Mountain way. Tutor.com is also a great resource and there will be additional time added to your accounts.

Internet access is critical for all students who now find themselves in online courses. To ensure your continued success, we have partnered with local businesses to provide parking lot WiFi access. Network Name: RichMtnWifi; Password: RichMountain

I encourage you to all stay connected online at UARichMountain.edu where we will continue to post updates pertinent to students, community, faculty, and staff. Important links, emails, phone numbers, etc. are all available there.

Finish strong, Bucks! #FinishStrongRM

Coronavirus Update  MARCH 20

On March 19, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a directive for the State of Arkansas “that state employees will conduct business through telecommuting and on-site work. On-site work will be limited to personnel that’s necessary for the proper functioning of government.”

As of March 20, our campus will be closed to all faculty and non-essential staff until further notice. Teams are working through all facilities to disinfect. Today, we know that there are confirmed cases in Polk County and that is why it is imperative that we do all that we can to slow the community spread of this incredibly contagious virus. Faculty and staff not on campus will be telecommuting and available via emails and phone. Instruction and business processes will continue to operate remotely and online.

Chancellor Phillip Wilson extends his gratitude to everyone for their patience and understanding during this unprecedented time in our history. “I have been extraordinarily proud of the sacrifices of our students, faculty, staff in remaining calm and collaborating as we continue to navigate these unchartered waters that remains to be fluid in every way. While we may have many unanswered questions today, what I do know is that the spirit within our Rich Mountain community remains strong and united as we continue to make sacrifices for personal and public health.” 

 

Coronavirus Update  MARCH 18

UA Rich Mountain Chancellor Phillip Wilson announced today that all campuses will move to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. “In the interest of the continuity of course delivery and for the protection of our community, we have made the decision to remain online until the conclusion of the semester.”      

The announcement follows a week of unprecedented measures to contain the community spread of the coronavirus. “Making this decision now will allow all of our students, whether local, out of state, or out of country, to return home to practice social distancing and minimize the risk associated with this terribly contagious COVID-19,” Wilson added.

Faculty and staff will remain at work. “Our commitment to our students during this transition is unwavering,” said Wilson.  Students are encouraged to call with any questions or issues. A complete employee directory is available at our Online Employee Directory  “The library, which will remain open to currently enrolled degree seeking students beginning March 30, will offer limited access. Call 479.394.7622 ext. 1371 for those details.  In addition, our student support service is available to provide tutoring… know that we are here for you every step of the way.”

•••

Coronavirus Update  from UARM Chancellor Phillip Wilson:

MARCH 15

Again, let me once again thank everyone for their patience as myself and our Crisis Response Team has continued to closely monitor the very fluid coronavirus pandemic. Earlier today Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson made an announcement to close all K12 schools beginning Tuesday through March 30. While no member of the UARM community has been diagnosed with COVID-19, we do value our relationship with our K12 schools and recognize that we share many of the same students; therefore, we will follow the same mandatory closings for our students as issued by Governor Hutchinson beginning Monday, March 16 through March 27. We will assess current information available prior to classes resuming on March 30.

Until further notice is given, classes are moved to online assignments. All students must access their UARM issued email for the latest updates from your instructors beginning March 16. In an abundance of caution, our campus will be closed and doors locked to visitors and outside entities beginning Monday, March 16 through Spring Break, March 30.

All UARM employees will be working on Monday, March 16; faculty should report in by 9 a.m. We will then continue to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis.

Feel confident that our custodial staff will continue to thoroughly clean/disinfect facilities as per CDC guidelines to provide the safest environment possible.

UARM leadership will remain in communication with state leaders, public health officials, our partner school - UAMS, the state’s leader in infectious control, to assess what has been an incredibly fluid and unprecedented public health threat to ensure that we take every precaution to best protect our employees and students. We strongly encourage you to stay connected through their email, social media outlets or our designated webpage CORONAVIRUS UPDATE for the latest developments affecting our campuses.

We are all swimming in unchartered waters and I sincerely appreciate everyone’s flexibility and understanding as we work to make difficult decisions in the best interest of our employees and students. We will get through this together.

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As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak rapidly evolves in the U.S. and worldwide, the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain (UARM) will continue to provide the latest updates and guidance for the campus community in one place online: uarichmountain.edu/coronavirus.

Recent updates include new guidance regarding domestic and personal travel as well as new information on several topics in the FAQs section of the site including:

  • Health and safety issues
  • I'm expecting visitors from out of town or overseas to attend a campus event. Should I be concerned?
  • What is the campus doing to disinfect public areas like buses, classrooms and fitness centers?
  • Is the college preparing contingency plans?
  • Is it safe to travel in the U.S.?
  • What should I consider when planning personal travel?

Health and Safety Issues 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following recommendations to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including: 

  • Avoid contact with sick people. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. (Additional hand sanitizer is being placed in buildings across campus.) Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty. 
  • Clean your hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Get a flu vaccine.

I'm expecting visitors from out of town or overseas to attend a campus event. Should I be concerned?

If your guests are visiting from a country with a CDC Coronavirus level of 2 or higher, your guest may be required to self-isolate for 14 days, per the Arkansas Department of Health. It would be advisable to discourage such visits.

What is the campus doing to disinfect public areas like classrooms and restrooms?

The disinfecting of common/public areas and surfaces is part of the UARM’s regular routine throughout campus, including: housing, buses/vehicles, facilities management and much more.

Specifically, classrooms and bathrooms are disinfected nightly, while our facilities management staff disinfects high traffic touchpoints daily - including door handles and push plates, student desktop surfaces and classroom teaching surfaces.

Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces followed by disinfection with an EPA-registered disinfectant is a best practice measure for prevention of viral respiratory illnesses.

Is the college preparing contingency plans?

UARM’s leadership is coordinating activities designed to support our community's health and well-being. We are strategically developing contingency plans to limit the impact to college operations should the need arise.

While these plans may not be required, these efforts are being made to assess the college’s readiness to conduct online classes and other efforts related to minimize the impact to student learning while ensuring students and employees, who may become ill, can be properly supported as they recover and limit the spread of the virus on campus.

Is it safe to travel in the U.S.?

Please exercise caution and check for the latest information available for your specific destination as the Coronavirus situation in the U.S. is changing rapidly.

While the CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices (this currently includes domestic travel in the U.S.) because the risk of transmission is considered low, some areas are reporting increasing levels local transmission. 

What should I consider when planning personal travel?

Consider method of transportation for all travel. Air travel, for example, tends to be crowded with people in close proximity in the plane and the airport. Traveling in a personal vehicle to a destination, would limit exposure to crowds.

International Travel

We strongly discourage personal international travel, especially to countries with a CDC risk level for Coronavirus of 2 or higher. Please consider the health risk and logistical challenges that may be encountered including that the Arkansas Department of Health may require self-isolation for 14 days after traveling to or through an affected area. Customs agents are reporting international travelers arriving from affected countries to state departments of health for this purpose.

Domestic Travel

Please exercise caution and check for the latest information available for your specific destination as the coronavirus situation in the U.S. is changing rapidly. While the CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices (this currently includes domestic travel in the U.S.) because the risk of transmission is considered low, some areas are reporting increasing levels of local transmission.

Other resources: 

https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus-2020.html

https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/school/students-institutions-higher-education.html

https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices