Chancellor Notifies Campus of First Reported Case
Chancellor Kelly Damphousse issued the following email to the A-State community Friday morning, April 3, following the first report of a positive coronavirus case on campus, and announcing activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Dear Red Wolves:
On Thursday afternoon (April 2), a student who lives on campus informed University Housing that they had been tested Thursday for COVID-19. The student has not received a result, but is currently self-isolated. The student has not interacted with anyone on campus since returning from Spring Break. Not long after that, one of our A-State employees reported that they learned Thursday that they tested positive for COVID-19. The employee has been self-quarantined at home since being tested on March 19 while awaiting the results, and has been asymptomatic for several days. It is worth noting that employee's last day on campus was 14 days ago.
Friends, I hope that this news reminds us all about the importance of physical distancing. Even though we may not feel ill, we may be infected with coronavirus. The more that we limit our interactions with others, the more likely we are to keep each other safe. I think it is also important that we not cast blame on people who are tested or who test positive. They may have done everything they were advised to do and, in spite of their efforts, were still infected.
In our next step in responding to this pandemic emergency, Arkansas State will begin screening on-campus employees via a questionnaire each day that they are on campus for work. We will also ask that our remaining on-campus students participate in the screening questionnaire as well. As A-State has no single “front door” to perform daily screening, the questionnaire will be required daily before anyone can log on to their on-campus computer or access the employee (A-State Secure) campus WiFi network.
As you may know, our emergency response team has been virtually meeting every day for over a month. With this email, I am formally activating our Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Effective immediately until the EOC stands down, anyone on campus with a COVID-19 or other emergency concern is instructed to contact the EOC leadership via email at eoc@AState.edu. Our campus emergency coordinator, Jon Carvell, serves as the director of the EOC. He has prepared an organizational chart based on our existing Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) and will be sharing that with campus soon.
Because we want to be sure that the EOC is aware of all COVID-19 related decisions, any employee who is asked to provide any resource or any communication on behalf of Arkansas State University shall contact the Emergency Operation Center. Similarly, A-State employees or students who contemplate any operational change related to COVID-19 shall inform the EOC.
Our EOP outlines plans for responses to all emergencies, including pandemic illnesses like COVID-19. Following that plan, the EOC will not be located in a physical space. Instead, the EOC leadership will operate in a virtual environment as most employees are working remotely per the Governor’s previous orders.
I remind all supervisors to review and confirm for Human Resources their essential on-campus employees. We recognize that many employees that have important functions are working remotely. This is not the same as our essential on-campus staff. In the event of future restrictions or orders related to staying at home, we must have our on-campus essential employees clearly defined. If you have questions, please refer to the FAQ page on coronavirus under the “For Employees” section for “What is an Essential Employee?”
Finally, for housing residents who do not need to live on campus for the remainder of the semester, please remember that today, Friday, April 3, is the deadline for you to check out from campus. I know that many who had asked to stay have now changed their mind, and that is okay. I also understand that the news of our first positive case on campus may result in you or your family deciding to move off of campus. You may still move out. Please refer to this email to learn how to check out of University Housing. The email makes clear that I understand that April 3 might not work for everyone. Please contact University Housing by email or by phone at 870-972-2042 to determine a good alternate date. Given the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation, we want to manage as carefully as possible the move-out procedure.
In closing, I know many of you have questions, and in the good old days, I would invite faculty, staff, and students to come to “Coffee with Kelly” to sit down and discuss things. In today’s Daily Digest, you will see that next week, I am hosting “Digital Coffee with Kelly” at 4 p.m. each day. Click on the link and sign up to video conference with me. This is, of course, a bring your own coffee event. ☺
Hang in there, my friends.