Arkansas State University is committed to the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students as our highest priority, while also seeking to continue delivering the highest quality learning and working environment possible. We have relied heavily on guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Office, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), local health authorities, and input from our campus community. As the state of Arkansas and state agencies begin the process of phased return to work in early June, A-State begins to move into Phases 2 and 3 over the coming weeks.
Our decision about the Fall 2020 semester will maintain that very same perspective. While there are a myriad of things to consider when planning our recovery efforts, the chief priorities will be, first, the health and safety of our campus community and, second, the continuity of our mission to educate leaders, enhance intellectual growth, and enrich lives. We will take into account guidance from relevant authorities and use a transparent and collaborative process to determine our actions.
To that end, we expect that we will conduct the Fall 2020 semester on campus. It will not be “business as usual,” because we all understand that adjustments will have to be made. These changes will be based on the best practices for health and safety. We will also be prepared to make adjustments and to have contingency plans in place should they be needed. None of us knows exactly what the fall will look like, but we cannot wait to start making plans.
Finally, my commitment to the A-State community from the beginning of the COVID-19 crises has been to openly and regularly communicate with the campus, and to adhere to our highly valued principle of shared governance when setting policy. This Return to Learn plan is the very embodiment of that commitment. Our Emergency Operations Center (Jon Carvell, Len Frey, Bill Smith, Martha Spack, Alan Utter, and Lori Winn) has provided tremendous leadership from the very beginning of this crisis in late January. They have coordinated our 2020 COVID-19 response, and they developed the basic outline of our Return to Learn plan. The plan itself is result of a campus-wide, collaborative effort led by the Chancellor’s Cabinet (Erika Chudy, Len Frey, Maurice Gipson, Terry Mohajir, Thilla Sivakumaran, Bryan Terry, Alan Utter), and involving many representatives of the A-State faculty/staff, our student body, and state and local health officials. You will find the names of most of the contributors on pages 23-25 of this plan. We all owe these Red Wolves a tremendous debt of gratitude.
It is important for all of us to understand that A-State’s COVID-19 responses have been flexible, and we would expect it to remain a work in progress, following the best guidance provided to us. As our knowledge of the virus evolves, we anticipate that the following guidance and plans will also evolve as we return to on-campus operations.
Dr. Kelly Damphousse
Plan version issued June 25, 2020