As uncertainty remains around the pandemic, institutions of higher education are trying to determine how to conduct classes in the fall.
College students across the state and country have been forced to complete their spring semester virtually online since March. Most universities have also chosen to move summer courses online. However, some universities are expecting to hold in-person classes beginning this fall.
When asked about testing requirements for students who are expected to return to campuses this fall, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said, “We are looking and working with our higher education institutions on a means in which we can do rapid testing on students, not necessarily all students, but students that are symptomatic — students that have a particular need for testing.” He added, “We are looking at that so expect more information as we get closer to it. We are continuing to develop the exact protocols that will be available hopefully to all higher education institutions in Arkansas in terms of testing.”
Arkansas State University System officials announced on May 4 that its six member institutions, in addition to Henderson State University, anticipate that students will return to campus in the fall to go to classes.
The six current ASU System institutions include Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, ASU Beebe, ASU Mountain Home, ASU Newport, ASU Mid-South, and ASU Three Rivers. Henderson State University is in the process of joining the ASU System.
The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas also had passed a resolution on May 4 in a meeting to direct UA System President Donald R. Bobbitt, chancellors and chief executives of all UA System campuses, divisions and units to reopen their institutions for the fall semester.
The six current UA System four-year institutions include University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, UA-Little Rock, UA-Monticello, UA-Pine Bluff and UA-Fort Smith.
There are also seven UA system two-year colleges including University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, Cossatot Community College, UA Rich Mountain, UA Morrilton, UA Batesville and UA Hope-Texarkana.
The University of Central Arkansas, Harding University, Ouachita Baptist University, Williams Baptist University, John Brown University, Southern Arkansas University and Central Baptist College all expect to resume classes on campus in the fall.
Although there are currently not definitive plans in place for reopening, all universities have said that plans will be based on the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Arkansas Department of Health. Contingency plans are also expected to be created by universities should there be a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
The Chronicle of Higher Education is updating a list of colleges and universities across the country with their plans to reopen.