Enormous questions face educators at every level, from pre-school to graduate school, about resuming operation in the coming school year with COVID-19 expected to continue to climb in Arkansas.

The state Board of Education will adopt a plan of sorts at a special meeting Monday. University campuses have also laid out guidelines for fall classes, but at every level, parents, students and teachers have concerns.,

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Here’s one, a copy of a note to colleagues from Amanda Nolen, president of the faculty Senate at UA Little Rock.

Faculty Senators,

 

When the campus closed in March, Arkansas had only a dozen or so confirmed cases of COVID-19. Today we are seeing over 650 confirmed cases per day. The UAMS model projects that we can expect around 150,000 total confirmed cases by September 30th. If that projection holds, then we will see daily case counts continue to increase at an increasing rate throughout the state.

 

The prospect of returning in the Fall and conducting on-campus instruction and research during the COVID-19 pandemic touches on issues of civil rights including disability, racial, and gender equity. The physical and financial impact of this disease is not proportional, nor is it evenly distributed across the state or even within our community. It is clear that for the foreseeable future, working remotely should remain the norm, and any on-campus presence must be the exception rather than the other way around.

 

This is the conclusion that the Provost’s Academic Covid-19 Taskforce came to this afternoon. PACT voted on the recommendation you see below. The PACT serves in an advisory capacity only and has no authority. I am bringing this to you, the Faculty Senate, for your reaction and input.  Based on the feedback, I will ask the executive committee to act on your behalf to endorse this…or if need be, put forward an amended/alternative resolution.

 

“The PACT recommends that, in the interests of the health of our students, staff, faculty and community, UA Little Rock prepare to offer all courses remotely for Fall 2020. Any face to face courses will have to be justified in a manner comparable with IRB risk analyses (e.g., Is the risk in compelling face to face less than delivering equivalent content online?).

 

“If classes are offered remotely for the fall, allowing for only campus visits (as needed), then UA Little Rock employees will continue in the current temporary approval to work remotely that was authorized by the university in March. If all courses are offered remotely, UA Little Rock will make ensuring the tools for on-line education (i.e., laptop computers and internet access) to students a top priority (as currently recommended by PACT).”  

 

Thanks everyone. Stay safe.

Tough times.

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