Arkansas Tech University faculty and staff will work from home as much as possible beginning Wednesday, March 18, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as defined by the World Health Organization.
Plans and provisions are being made to provide employees with access to technology and supplies necessary for the fulfillment of their job duties from home. The status, which applies to all ATU campuses, will be re-evaluated as the pandemic evolves.
The move is being made as part of ATU's efforts to engage in social distancing to assist in preventing the spread of the virus as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arkansas Department of Health.
All in-person classes through ATU’s Russellville and Ozark campuses are ceased through at least Friday, April 10. Instruction will take place virtually beginning Wednesday, March 18.
All classes at ATU were canceled on Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, to provide time to prepare for the transition to virtual instruction and telecommuting. All university activities and events have been suspended until in-person instruction resumes.
"Arranging for staff members to join our faculty and students in working from home whenever possible is another step we can take to perform our civic responsibility during the coronavirus pandemic," said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. "We are following updates from our state and federal governments, and with a great deal of assistance from the ATU coronavirus task force, we are responding to challenges and questions as they arise.”
Staff members working from home will be on call in accordance with their regular work schedules. Office phones are being forwarded and appropriate remote access to digital resources are being established such that university employees will be available to respond to inquiries as if they were in the office.
“As I said last week when we made the decision to transition to virtual instruction, the days ahead will be filled with logistical difficulties,” said Bowen. “We will, however, adjust to this reality for the duration of this situation and demonstrate the grit, caring and innovation that have always allowed Arkansas Tech University to persist and thrive.”
In cases where such steps are necessary, supervisors and staff members will work together to identify and work on special projects that align with university needs.
Certain personnel who cannot perform their essential functions from home will continue to work on campus. These include, but are not limited to, officers in the ATU Department of Public Safety on the Russellville and Ozark campuses, librarians and staff in the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center and the ATU-Ozark Campus library, personnel in the ATU Office of Residence Life, staff in the ATU Office of Facilities Management on the Russellville and Ozark campuses and staff in the U.S. Post Office location on the Russellville campus.
Brent Etzel, director of the ATU library, stated that use of Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center will be limited to ATU students, faculty and staff only until further notice. Those entering the library will be required to show their ATU identification card in order to access the facility.
Hours of operation at the library for the week of March 16-20 are 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday.
Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center will be closed Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22.
The library will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. during the week of spring break, March 23-27. The facility will be closed Saturday, March 28, and will re-open from 1-9 p.m. Sunday, March 29.
Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center hours beginning Monday, March 30, will be 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1-9 p.m. Sundays.
The library and the residence halls on the Russellville campus are remaining open in order to provide ATU students with access to the resources necessary to continue their academic progress. As of Monday, March 16, almost 600 ATU students had indicated they will continue living in their residence halls when virtual instruction is in place. Regular occupancy in ATU student housing is approximately 2,700 students.
Dr. Delton Gordon, ATU associate dean for residence life, stated that during phone call conversations with the ATU Office of Residence Life, the overwhelming majority of those nearly 600 students indicated a combination of work responsibilities and the need for internet access were driving their decisions to remain in the residence halls.
Custodial staff members from the ATU Office of Facilities Management on the Russellville and Ozark campuses will continue ongoing efforts to regularly clean and disinfect any space that is accessed by humans for the duration of the pandemic.
Chartwells, food service provider at ATU, has also taken multiple steps to ensure the continuation of its services for so long as there are students residing on campus. Those steps include a temporary switch to single-use plates, cups and silverware, implementing a cash-free environment and sanitizing tables every 15-to-20 minutes. In addition, Chartwells employees who are ill are directed to remain at home.
Chartwells leadership at ATU is receiving information about effective pandemic-influenced adjustments at sites its organization operates in other regions of the United States and is implementing those adjustments in its practices at Arkansas Tech.
Food service on ATU-Ozark Campus will cease at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, and remain closed until in-person instruction resumes.
The physical location of the ATU Health and Wellness Center at Doc Bryan Student Services Center is closed, but health care professionals there will continue corresponding with and providing care for ATU students under their care via distance technology.
Tech Fit, a recreation and wellness facility located in the Hull Physical Education Building, has been closed to provide for greater social distancing among the ATU students who remain on campus.
On the Russellville campus, all buildings except for Dr. Robert Charles Brown and Jill Lestage Brown Hall and the W.O. Young Building will be locked to public access beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. Brown Hall will follow suit beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, March 20. Employees with swipe card access will still be able to access the facilities they can normally access if it is essential for continuity of operations that they do so.
Barnes and Noble College ATU Bookstore in the W.O. Young Building has reduced its hours to 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays. Mailboxes associated with the ATU location of the U.S. Post Office in the Young Building will continue to be accessible daily from 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
On the Ozark campus, all buildings except for the Technology and Administrative Support building and the Health Sciences building will be closed beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17. The Technology and Administrative Support building and the Health Sciences building at ATU-Ozark will be open weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. until further notice.
Green and Gold Cupboard, a food pantry that serves food insecure faculty, staff and students at ATU, has announced it will continue its services for the Russellville campus on a by-appointment basis for so long as it is safe to do so.
Individuals with a valid ATU identification card and a need may send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to request appointments, which will be available Mondays from 4-5 p.m. and Fridays from noon-1 p.m.
The Green and Gold Cupboard location at ATU-Ozark Campus will also be available to faculty, staff and students by appointment only. Those needing access may call (479) 667-2117 to arrange an appointment Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The APEX Tutoring Center at ATU will transition to an all-online tutoring format beginning Wednesday, March 18. There will be no face-to-face tutoring in Doc Bryan Student Services Center suite 153 until further notice.
However, students can make online tutoring appointments by going to tutortrac.atu.edu. Students with questions may call (479) 880-4324 or send e-mail to email@example.com for help making appointments.
More information about the APEX Tutoring Center can be found at www.atu.edu/tutoring.
ATU Norman Career Services will also continue advocating for students through distance technology. Handshake, an online portal offered by Norman Career Services, is available for those seeking employment or internship opportunities. Handshake also allows students to access online resume reviews and participate in online mock interviews.
Personnel from Norman Career Services will also remain available for online appointments with students seeking their services. Learn more at www.atu.edu/career.