Arkansas Tech University is preparing to look, sound and feel like Arkansas Tech University again in fall 2021.
ATU President Dr. Robin E. Bowen announced on Friday that it is the intention of Arkansas Tech University for its campuses in Russellville and Ozark to resume their normal in-person class schedule and for campus activities to return to pre-pandemic status in time for the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.
“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas one year ago, Arkansas Tech University has steadfastly followed and responded to guidance based upon scientific evidence,” said Bowen. “Recent decreases in the number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, the new standards for gatherings announced this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the proven efficacy and increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines have provided our university with sufficient reason to believe that it will be safe and appropriate to resume full normal operations by August.”
The announcement comes 51 weeks after Arkansas Tech pivoted to virtual classes and remote operations in response to the arrival and spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas during mid-March 2020.
ATU resumed limited in-person laboratory instruction during the second summer term in 2020. The 2020-21 academic year has been conducted through mixed methodology with approximately 25 percent of courses exclusively online, approximately 25 percent of classes exclusively in-person and the remaining 50 percent in a hybrid environment of some online and some in-person.
Arkansas Tech is operating under phase one of its pandemic recovery framework. If the number of COVID-19 cases within the ATU community remains steady or decreases in the coming weeks, Arkansas Tech plans to transition to phase two of its pandemic recovery framework on Monday, April 12, 2021.
The biggest change between phase one and phase two is the number of individuals permitted to gather in a specific place on campus at ATU would increase from 30 to 50.
Mandatory face coverings and social distancing protocols will remain in place on all Arkansas Tech campuses through the end of the spring 2021 semester. Those policies and continued progress through the phases of ATU’s pandemic recovery framework will be reviewed during summer 2021.
More information concerning the full resumption of in-person university support operations will be communicated to staff members in the weeks to come.
Plans call for summer 2021 courses to be delivered in a method similar to spring 2021 --- some in-person, some online and some a hybrid of the two.
“The period of time from March 2020 through the end of the spring 2021 semester will be recorded as one of the most challenging periods in Arkansas Tech history,” said Bowen. “However, it will also be remembered as one of our university’s finest hours. The students, faculty and staff of Arkansas Tech responded to the operational challenges of the pandemic with resilience and the will necessary to continue the daily pursuit of our mission. We developed new and innovative methods for delivering academic programs and services, many of which will continue to benefit us in the post-pandemic environment. Equally impressive and important was the extent to which the people of Arkansas Tech adhered to our safety protocols. As a result, we have been able to successfully mitigate the effects of COVID-19 at Arkansas Tech thus far.
“Now, as we prepare to return to standard operating procedures for fall 2021, we must concentrate our collective energy as an institution on helping our communities and our state recover from the negative economic impact of the pandemic,” continued Bowen. “Students who enroll at Arkansas Tech will find a campus community that is prepared and dedicated to channeling their innate grit in a direction that will lead to meaningful educational experiences, personal growth and career readiness. Bringing the virus under control is only the first step. We must be prepared to grapple with and overcome the economic challenges that will remain when the pandemic ends. Graduates of Arkansas Tech have the skills and the determination necessary to overcome those challenges and build a brighter future.”
Learn more about Arkansas Tech University at www.atu.edu.