Update regarding COVID-19 from President Houston Davis to students, faculty, and staff

The countdown continues. In less than two weeks, we will begin the fall 2020 semester. In late July, I provided you with many important details about our fall 2020 plan and what you can expect when classes begin. Today, I would like to remind you of those specifics, reiterate some of the new health and safety protocols implemented for this semester, and provide some new details on topics such as face covering distribution, study space options (indoor and outdoor), and guidance for student organizations and events. I know this is a long email with several sections of key information, but please bear with me. Our goal is to answer and address as many of your questions as possible as we near the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year.

As previously indicated, after many discussions with campus leadership and health officials, we have decided to start the fall term as scheduled on August 20 but to present options for instructional delivery. We have a range of course options available, including in-person, hybrid, and online, to meet the needs of our students. While the majority of our 2,500 fall courses will be face-to-face, even those traditional, face-to-face courses will have elements of remote learning to allow for physical distancing and minimize crowding in facilities.

Every academic department and major will have some courses that are fully online for those students that would prefer to take online courses this fall. This will vary by college and department, with online courses representing between 30 to 50 percent of classes in many departments. Courses moved to fully online should be reflected in the fall schedule.

The Office of Student Success has created a very helpful webpage that explains the different class formats students could see this fall. You can review that information here, and reach out to them at with any additional questions.

It is extremely important that you check your CUB account (UCA student email) regularly. Your professors will begin sending out important information to you regarding class format and scheduling before class begins and will continue to communicate with you throughout the semester via your UCA email. Contact your academic advisor or your department chair if you have any questions about your schedule.

Below are additional details and key academic calendar dates to keep in mind:

  • All UCA fall semester classes will begin Aug. 20, 2020.
  • We have removed the fall break and added those days to the Thanksgiving break. Therefore, the final day of any on-campus instruction will be Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, and students will have a full week off (Monday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 29) for Thanksgiving.
  • The four days of instruction following Thanksgiving, as well as final exams in December, will be online.
  • Though face-to-face instruction for the fall semester will end after Nov. 20, 2020, the rest of campus, including residence halls, dining facilities, HPER, and library will remain open through the end of finals week in December.
  • The spring 2021 semester will begin Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, which is the Tuesday after the observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Just as in the fall semester, we plan for the spring semester to have a variety of options for instructional delivery.

You can see an updated academic calendar reflecting these dates here.

UCA will begin the fall semester with 30% of all classes online. As noted, all of our remaining courses meeting face-to-face have been redesigned as hybrid models to allow for physical distancing and to minimize crowding in facilities. Regardless of initial format, all 2,500 UCA classes in the fall semester will be designed to allow for a pivot to remote or online attendance and instruction if required.

Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) recommendations, classroom seating will not exceed 66% of the room’s capacity. In regular classrooms, seating and desks will be spaced six feet apart. In lecture halls, seats and rows will be taped off to ensure a six-foot distance between seats.

Students should avoid congregating in hallways and other enclosed spaces. Directional signage and floor markings have been posted in all buildings to guide students on traffic flow and to indicate six feet of distancing.

UCA has also designated a number of indoor and outdoor spaces for students to study and participate in their online classes should they need to do that from campus. The university has strategically placed additional outdoor seating and picnic tables throughout campus in areas with a strong Wi-Fi signal. More information will continue to be updated under the “Information Technology” heading of the coronavirus website.

Heavily trafficked and dense areas such as the Christian Cafeteria, Student Center, and Torreyson Library have been reset to maintain social distancing while accommodating the maximum number of guests. In the Christian Cafeteria, for instance, tables are situated 10 feet apart, and floor signs are placed to keep the six-foot guideline for distancing.

UCA has ramped up its cleaning and sanitizing protocols in preparation for the fall semester.

Custodians are cleaning buildings, classrooms, and restrooms on a daily basis and are focusing on wiping down all touch points such as sinks, door knobs/handles, tables, elevator buttons, toilets, faucets, light switches, etc. All desks in classrooms will be sprayed with disinfectant nightly. In addition to routine maintenance on all heating and air units, the Physical Plant is also changing air filters multiple times a year and cleaning air handlers and air core units regularly.

Hand sanitizing stations will be located in hallways. It is recommended that you frequently wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Disinfecting materials will be placed near the door of each classroom or lecture hall. As you enter a room, you may take a wipe and clean your desk space or commonly touched surfaces before sitting down.

Wearing a cloth face covering has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. When we all wear face coverings, our chances of spreading the virus are dramatically reduced. This fall, students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces — in classrooms, hallways, lobbies, restrooms, stairwells and elevators — and in any situation outdoors where maintaining six feet from others is not possible. However, students will not be required to wear face coverings while in their dorm room or in their own personal space.

While you are free to wear your own face covering, UCA will provide all students with a UCA-branded covering (bammie). For students that live in university-owned housing, you will receive a bammie during move-in to your room. For students that do not live on campus, bammies will be distributed on the following days:

  • Concierge Window/Student Center: Monday, Aug. 17-Friday, Aug.21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Conway Daze: Tuesday, Aug.18, 2 p.m.
  • Conway Daze: Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2 p.m.
  • Beginning on Monday, Aug. 24, students can get a bammie in the Office of Student Life during regular business hours.

Additionally, UCA will provide KN95 masks in specific instances such as to Nursing students or other College of Health and Behavioral Sciences students participating in clinicals, to students in certain laboratory settings, and to students working in public K-12 schools. These will be distributed by the respective departments.

Some students may be unable to wear a face covering due to a documented medical condition. For information on face mask exemptions, contact the UCA Disability Resource Center at or (501) 450-3613.

Orders for additional PPE are ongoing, but we have successfully ordered 50,000 UCA-branded face coverings; 5,000 black face coverings; over 71,000 disposable face masks; over 120,000 disposable gloves; over 5,000 KN95 masks; and 2,000 face shields to distribute to students, faculty and staff. We have also secured large quantities of disposable gowns, sanitizing wipes and spray, plexiglass, and thermometers, and we have installed plexiglass dividers in areas where it is deemed appropriate.

There are some academic areas on campus, such as science labs and clinic spaces, that require group work and close contact. In these areas, students may be required to wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond what is already required for their lab, such as KN95 masks, face shields, and protective clothing and gloves. Please know that UCA will provide any additional PPE that is required to help protect students, faculty and staff from COVID-19.

Our top priority will always be safeguarding the health of our entire campus community. We are planning for a variety of different scenarios and are doing everything in our power to ensure we have a healthy, safe return to campus. That said, we cannot predict the future; it is impossible to know with certainty how the next few months will look. If you are part of a vulnerable population, or if you have someone at home who is vulnerable, your decisions about the fall semester should be guided by what you feel is best for you and your unique situation. If you feel like you should take exclusively online classes, please contact your advisor or department chair to see what options are available. If you do not know who your advisor is, please contact the Academic Advising Center.

Our UCA Student Health Clinic, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Health and Conway Regional Health System, is prepared to test and trace any students, faculty, or staff members who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or those who believe they may have been in close contact with an infected person(s). COVID-19 tests can be done on campus or at Conway Regional Health System, depending on the situation and the needs of the individual.

UCA recently announced a formal partnership for testing and health services related to COVID-19 that will combine our efforts with Conway Regional Health System, Hendrix College, and Central Baptist College. The consortium will implement protocols and practices to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff at all three Conway-area universities and colleges. The partnership focuses on recommended best practices for each campus to keep their communities safe and healthy.

Students should not come to class if they are awaiting COVID-19 test results. All classes are being designed to support remote learning to ensure that students can continue their studies while in quarantine or isolation.

Dr. Randy Pastor, UCA Medical Director, has developed a protocol outlining the steps students should take if they need to get tested, or if they receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. That protocol may be viewed here, under “Testing, Tracing, Isolating.”

We have isolation and quarantine housing plans in place to safely support any students living on campus who either test positive for COVID-19 or who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive. We are preparing multiple buildings — including reserving the entirety of Carmichael Hall (120 separate rooms) — that will be dedicated to serve those students who are required to quarantine and need to remain in campus housing. Additionally, we are reserving other university-owned housing to isolate those who have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and need to remain on campus.

Should a student need to be moved to isolation or quarantine housing, UCA Health Clinic staff will transport them via open-air golf cart or shuttle. There, a full staff will be dedicated to addressing students’ needs, including medical care and daily check-ups, food service, and basic errands. Students will also be able to participate in organized, socially distanced activities for physical and social health.

Remember, if you are sick, do not attend class.

Regular university policy requires freshmen to live on campus for their first year, but we will be flexible with freshman students’ needs for this coming fall and spring. First-time freshmen who are interested in living off campus must still complete the Housing Exemption Form found here. All exemptions must be approved no later than Friday, August 14.

Students and residents will be required to wear face coverings while in any public areas of residence halls, including hallways, stairwells, restrooms, laundry rooms, and lobbies. However, students will not be required to wear face coverings in their own room or personal space.

Residence Life staff are following guidance from the CDC and the ADH and are taking extra steps to ensure that residence halls remain clean, safe environments. Custodians are cleaning all community spaces in residence halls, including restrooms and lobbies, on a daily basis and are focusing on wiping down all touch points such as sinks, door knobs/handles, tables, elevator buttons, toilets, faucets, light switches, etc. As in years past, students should bring their own daily cleaning supplies, such as disinfectant spray and wipes, to perform routine cleaning inside of their rooms.

One big thing that has changed for 2020-21 is our policy on visitors. This year, you cannot have visitors from other areas of campus or outside of campus come to your residence hall. For instance, if you live in Arkansas Hall, your friend from State Hall will not be allowed to visit inside your building. This also applies to your family members. In order to keep our entire campus community safe, we will be strictly enforcing this new rule. If your Resident Assistant sees someone who is not a resident in the hall, he or she will be asked to leave.

While you cannot have visitors inside the residence hall, you CAN have visitors meet you outside, where you are able to maintain a safe distance. We have added even more outdoor seating all around campus this year, so take advantage of the fresh air and beautiful campus and get outside!

We want to make sure that all of our Bears living on campus have a great experience. In order to start strong, our Housing Department has made some changes to the Move-In Day schedule to allow for a more staggered approach with fewer individuals on campus at one time. Students should review the schedule to ensure they know their move-in date and time. The UCA Housing site has specific information for freshmen, upperclassmen, and Greek students. Click here to see the schedule. For any additional housing and move-in day questions, email

We know there are many questions about room, board and dining service fees and how they may be impacted if we are forced to close campus. In the event that the university closes all operations before the end of the fall 2020 semester, we will provide students with prorated housing and meal plan reimbursements much like we did this past spring.

We have had many questions from students asking if they will be charged the “Online Fee” for traditional face-to-face courses that have been temporarily moved to an online format. The answer is no.

For students enrolled in a traditional degree program and taking an online course, UCA will reduce the “Online Fee” by $25 per hour for the 2020-21 academic year so that it does not exceed the total per-hour fees paid for a face-to-face course in a traditional degree program.

Those students enrolled in a fully online degree program will continue to pay their regular online program fees. More information about fall tuition and fees can be found here, under “Tuition, Fees, Room and Board.”

UCA is committed to providing many opportunities for student interaction and involvement on campus. Although our student events and programs will look different this academic year, we will continue to provide these opportunities in some format. You may contact the Office of Student Life for questions about registered student organizations, Bear Den events and Greek Life. You may also contact the Student Activities Board for information about scheduled programs. COVID-19-related safety information and instructions for social distancing will be provided for all events.

For more information, visit or call (501) 450-3137.

Continue to watch your UCA CUB email account and the UCA coronavirus webpage closely for important communications. You can direct suggestions, questions, or feedback to

As we near the start of the fall semester, we continue to work daily to ensure that all UCA students have a rich, fulfilling academic and campus life experience in a safe environment. Thank you for your commitment to this university and to each other. If we all work together, we will have a successful 2020 academic year and remain #UCAStrong.

Go Bears!