Out of an abundance of caution, the University of Arkansas at Monticello will move instruction at all campuses (Monticello, Crossett and McGehee) to a virtual setting beginning March 12 until at least Monday, March 30. No confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been identified among any campus faculty, students, or staff.
A potential case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was identified at Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) in Pine Bluff and a test has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for testing as a possible case of COVID-19. The case is being treated by the Arkansas Department of Health as presumed positive. The CDC test could be officially confirmed within three to four days.
On March 9, one UAM student is known to have had direct contact with the presumptive positive individual, and 32 UAM students and four faculty members were in the facility before a COVID-19 test was considered necessary.
No students or faculty who were present at the facility returned to the UAM campus after their potential exposure. None of these students are campus residents.
UAM Chancellor, Dr. Peggy Doss, issued the following statement on March 12:
The University has been proactive in its approach to its response to the Coronavirus. UAM began preparations several weeks ago by assembling a UAM command team, updating the existing Pandemic Response Plan, and strategically planning steps to take if an outbreak were to occur.
UAM is poised to respond to this situation as it evolves.
Out of an abundance of caution, UAM campuses, including the Colleges of Technology in McGehee and Crossett, have moved all instruction to a virtual setting until at least Monday, March 30. Residential students have also begun the process of moving off campus until after spring break.
It is very important to note that at this time we are not aware of any confirmed cases of Coronavirus among any UAM students, faculty or staff.
We are extremely grateful for the work of our faculty and staff, who have ensured uninterrupted instruction and delivery of our student services.
Our primary goal at all times is to prioritize the safety of our students, faculty and staff, as well as our community. This decision to move to online instruction was made in consultation with the University of Arkansas System office and with information made available to us at the time from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
With students moving off campus, we have suspended all student programs and student activities, including athletic practices and competitions.
These proactive and preventive measures align with the CDC goal of limiting opportunities for the spread of Coronavirus by employing social distancing, though at this time we have no knowledge of any confirmed cases of the disease on any UAM campus.
All university instruction, including that at the Colleges of Technology at McGehee and Crossett, is being delivered in an online format; this is not a cancellation of classes. Students and faculty will utilize the Blackboard instructional tool and university email to communicate. Staff continue to report to work as usual on all three campuses at this time.
As an additional measure of caution, students living on campus have been asked to return home or relocate to an off-campus location if possible. UAM is actively accommodating any students unable to relocate.
It is anticipated that courses and student events will resume on each campus on March 30, following spring break. Although, any changes to the timeline will be posted to the university website, and sent to all university students, faculty, staff and the media via email.
Parent and student questions should be directed to the office of the Student Engagement, and any media inquires can be addressed to the office of public relations.
Moving forward- In cooperation with the University of Arkansas System, CDC, and Arkansas Department of Health- the UAM command team is constantly monitoring the status of the virus and its impact on university operations.
We are extremely grateful for the community support shown to our campuses during this time. The University of Arkansas at Monticello continues to consider the health and safety of all of our constituents as our top priority.
Meanwhile, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced five more ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 cases in the state. The affected individuals have had contact in Saline, Jefferson, Pulaski and Grant counties.
Hutchinson recommended that all schools in those counties be closed until further notice.
The Little Rock School District, Pine Bluff School District, Bryant School District and Bauxite School Districts have already announced Thursday they are closing.
The total number of presumptive positive cases in the state is now six.