This information from Arkansas State University Chancellor D. Kelly Damphousse.
Dear Red Wolves:
As you know, we are all facing significant challenges across the country and around the world regarding coronavirus. As I have said many times over the past few weeks, the situation is very fluid and we all have to be ready to respond quickly when the information that we have changes. I remain very proud of the way that our faculty, staff, and students have responded to the challenge by preparing to be ready to transition to all-online instruction on our campus. In light of the national and statewide news of the past couple of days, I met with campus leadership this morning, including college deans, the chair of the Chairs Council, the president of the Faculty Senate, members of my cabinet, and other campus leaders. While there are no known cases of COVID-19 infections in our region at this time, we are now planning for the next stage in our campus response, as follows:
- The A-State campus will remain open the rest of the spring semester. That includes residence halls, the cafeteria, the library, the counseling and the student health center, and our computer labs. Provost Alan Utter will send a follow up email to faculty members and instructors and Dr. Len Frey will send follow up email to staff members with specific details for each group. All employees will continue to perform their duties as assigned for the duration of the time that campus remains open. Dean Martha Spack will send notification to all students regarding plans related to residence life and student life activities.
- All A-State classes are cancelled for Monday, March 16, 2020. This includes all labs, in-person classes, and online classes. This will give all instructors and students time to prepare for the all-online instruction transition that was already planned for Tuesday and Wednesday.
- Starting Tuesday, March 17, all in-person instruction will transition to all-online instruction through the end of the spring semester. There will be challenges to this for many types of courses that are difficult to deliver online (in particular, our lab courses and many of our fine arts courses). Our instructors have been working diligently to determine the best solution. I ask that students reach out to their instructors for more detail about how their classes and labs will be handled in this new all-online environment.
- All off-campus practicum activities and internships will continue as scheduled so long as the placements allow for it.
- We will do everything we can to hold our graduation ceremonies as scheduled in May. We will know more, obviously, as things get closer.
I understand that some students may wish to return home during this period of all-online instruction. That is perfectly acceptable, but to reiterate, the residence halls, cafeteria, computer labs and the rest of campus will remain open so that students will be able to keep up with their studies. Because the campus remains open, there will be no refunds for room and board.
I also understand that some members of the faculty and staff may have unique situations that will require an accommodation. I encourage you to discuss those issues with the HR department as soon as possible.
Friends, this is really uncharted territory for everyone in the world, and especially on college campuses. This will not be easy. Building online classes typically takes several months of work and we have only had a few weeks to get ready for this. I have taught graduate and undergraduate classes online in the past, so I know how hard it is for instructors and students alike. I ask that we all consider that as we move forward. Let’s be patient and empathetic with each other. Let’s speak calmly with each other when something is not working so that we can work toward a solution as quickly as possible. Let’s be sure to communicate regularly and often, especially in the first couple of weeks moving forward.
I know that many of us are very anxious about transitioning to all-online instruction. Most of our faculty members never imagined teaching a class online in their career as recently as a month ago, so this is very new to us. Many of our students have online class experience, but there is understandable anxiety about how the transition will affect their grades and their learning outcomes.
We are all members of a pack and we need to lean on each other as we move forward. I am grateful for how well we have worked together so far. I am very proud of our campus community.