Letter from the Chancellor: September 9, 2020

Dear U of A Community:

 First off, I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, we have continued to see campus-affiliated cases of COVID-19 rise as revealed in last week’s increased testing that was done on campus. We now have more than 900 active cases. Needless to say, this is far too many positive cases. I do, though, want to thank everyone who got tested, especially if you were symptomatic. Now you know one way or another and can act accordingly.

Last Friday, Provost Robinson announced the suspension of on-campus activities through September 18, excepting official academic events and all classes, which continue as scheduled. He also announced that if the Office of Student Standards and Conduct receives a verified report of large parties or social gatherings involving 10 or more student guests who are clearly flouting established safety elements, the University will treat the event as a violation of the Code of Student Life by organizers and by attendees. I will only add that the extremely low rate of infection among faculty, staff and graduate assistants suggests our classes remain safe. Our testing data show that it is likely off-campus gatherings causing the majority of the positive cases. You can find out more about these announcements in this Q & A section.  

I would like to add the importance of answering the phone when contract tracers call (or at least calling them back), as well as answering their questions. UAMS contact tracers will often call from 501-214-2410 or 501-686-5875 but may use other numbers as well. They will only attempt to reach an individual three times, before turning the case over to the university, so it is important to answer.  Contact tracers are critical to arresting the spread of the virus, as well as providing timely warning to those who may have been exposed, so it’s imperative that they reach you. If a contact tracer calls you, please do your part. Also, it’s important that you self-report a positive off-campus test result within 24 hours of receiving the result.

As has been our policy from the start of the semester, students wishing to move out of university housing may continue to do so. Our policy isn’t to send anyone home if they are sick — far from it — but we understand you may feel more comfortable at home. I’d also like to add that this pandemic can be stressful in a variety of ways. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I encourage you to reach out to the Pat Walker Health Center and get the mental health support you need. They offer a variety of services and are there to help.

Again, be caring, be accountable, and answer if a contact tracer calls!


Joe Steinmetz, Ph.D.