Arkansas Tech University has published a pandemic recovery framework in preparation for the fall 2020 semester on its campuses in Russellville and Ozark.
The document provides a phased plan for how ATU will approach its return to on-campus classes and activities while continuing to participate in mitigation of and recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that caused institutions of higher education to enter a virtual instruction environment during the spring and summer 2020 semesters.
"We continue to be optimistic in our planning for fall 2020 and our intention to return to campus for classes and activities," said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president. "Our pandemic recovery framework provides an overview of parameters in the various phases of recovery that will allow ATU to safely re-open its campuses as circumstances allow. Our approach is intentionally deliberate, based upon scientific evidence provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arkansas Department of Health and places top priority on the safety and well-being of our university community."
The ATU pandemic recovery framework was drafted by the ATU COVID-19 task force. It states that university responsibilities during recovery will include the implementation of appropriate policies regarding social distancing, use of personal protective equipment, health and temperature checks and university-sponsored travel and activities.
Ensuring continuity of the educational process, contact tracing policies and procedures, appropriate sanitization of university facilities and ongoing communication as the university moves from one phase of the plan to another are among the other recovery responsibilities assigned to the institution.
ATU colleges and departments will use the pandemic recovery framework as a guide for developing recovery plans specific to their operations.
Personal responsibilities designated to ATU faculty, staff and students include practicing appropriate hygiene to limit spread of the virus, staying home when feeling ill or exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, avoiding gatherings that are larger than the ones described in the current phase of the plan and regularly accessing ATU communication resources for pandemic recovery updates.
The document states that masks are required by all ATU students, staff, and faculty while on campus, in public spaces and when social distancing of six feet or greater is not possible. The university is making plans to obtain and provide masks for faculty, staff and students who cannot provide their own.
The pandemic recovery framework also addresses accommodations for individuals who have conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Each of us wants to return to a learning and working environment that is as normal as possible, as safely as possible,” said Bowen. “We are procuring the masks, personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and other materials that will allow ATU to return to campus for classes and activities. Like the rest of our state and nation, we anticipate and are preparing for a long and perhaps challenging recovery. It may, at times, be one step forward and two steps back.
“However, the educational process must continue so that our students may pursue their goals and be prepared to contribute as our society overcomes this significant obstacle,” continued Bowen. “The ATU community has demonstrated its trademark grit and determination during this pandemic, and I anticipate those qualities will continue to benefit us as we enter our pandemic recovery phases.”
The full ATU pandemic recovery framework is available at www.atu.edu/docs/Pandemic%20Framework-2020.pdf.