University Staff: Plan for 100 Percent Return to Campus by June 14

Photos by Chieko Hara, University Relations

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Staff members who are still working remotely should begin making plans for a full return to campus this summer. Faculty and students should expect a full return to face-to-face classes this fall.

By June 14 — or sooner — the goal is to have 100% of employees who would normally be on campus back on campus. 

RETURNING NON-FACULTY STAFF

In an effort to support the full return of students this fall and in concert with last week's Board of Trustees resolution articulating expectations for the entire University of Arkansas System to be back on campus by the start of the fall 2021 semester, planning for more staff to return should start now, with each department completing an anticipated plan of return.

Each unit's return plans should be approved by unit heads (dean or vice chancellor) and be ready to share by May 17 so employees can plan accordingly.

Supervisors should plan for the appropriate benchmarks in consultation with their unit heads, Remote staff who express readiness to return to campus this spring could begin doing so if the workplace is ready.

Any surge in COVID-19 infections could modify return plans as the health and safety of the campus community will continue to shape all decision making. Consideration for employees who may need to continue to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation for a disability will be addressed on a case-by-case basis through our normal accommodation process with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.

The university is also in the process of reviewing and updating its remote work policy, which will be shared with campus as soon as possible. It is anticipated that some employees and/or campus functions may continue to work remotely if in the best interests of the university.

REMINDERS FOR RETURNING TO CAMPUS

A staff member enters a campus building
A staff member enters a campus building.

The COVID-19 website will be updated with all the latest guidance and information later this spring. Here are some reminders as we begins phasing in more on-campus staff:   

  • Employees who have COVID-19 should not work on-site.  
  • Employees recovering or recovered from COVID-19 should follow ADH guidance and the guidance of their doctor.  
  • Employees should self-screen for symptoms daily. Workday has a feature built in to assist with this.  
  • Face masks or face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are still required in all buildings.  
  • Employees are still encouraged to limit the size of in-person meetings and participants are encouraged to utilize a conference call or video option when appropriate.  
  • In-person meetings must accommodate sufficient social distancing and face covering requirements. (Our meeting rooms all have posted capacity limits.)

PREPARING FOR FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES IN FALL

The university is now planning our return to campus in preparation for a face-to-face fall. This includes classes, student organization activities and events, and other related in-person functions and activities. This transition will get underway starting this summer, guided by vaccination availability and progress, which will inevitably allow us to open more activities as warranted. The university is already allowing events on campus, with approval and safety measures.

While many faculty, staff and students have already returned to campus, those numbers will continue to grow this summer, with the university's entire non-faculty staff population back by mid-summer.

"While things may never be exactly the same as they were before, we expect to achieve some level of normalcy, including classrooms and workplaces at their usual capacity, as well as regular capacity crowds at sports events, public performances and lectures," Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said. "Whether masks will still be needed remains to be seen as vaccination rates will be a consideration — it's just too early to say at this point, but we know it's good practice."

The university will maintain mask use and social distancing protocols at this time, and anticipate doing so through summer classes. Additional details about the fall semester will be announced later this spring.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas' economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.

Contacts

Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor
University Relations
479-575-5555, markr@uark.edu

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