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

As we continue to prepare for the fall semester, I would like to share some important details and new information about students’ return to campus in August and the protocols UCA has put in place to ensure a safe return for all. We will continue to communicate with you frequently in the coming weeks as more details are available and plans are solidified.


On May 8, I shared our plans to be in regular operation and begin classes as scheduled on Aug. 20. We made this decision after many lengthy, detailed discussions with campus leadership and health officials. Below are additional details and key dates to keep in mind:

  • For the fall 2020 semester, we will have normal operations with the majority of classes delivered via face-to-face instruction with hybrid elements. However, all class instruction will be designed to allow for a pivot to remote or online attendance and instruction if required.
  • Following Thanksgiving Break, academic instruction for the last week of fall semester will be online. All fall 2020 final exams will also be held online. The final day for in-person instruction during the fall 2020 semester will be Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020.
  • Though face-to-face instruction for the fall semester will transition to online instruction after Nov. 24, 2020, the rest of campus, including residence halls, dining facilities, HPER, and library will remain open through the end of finals week.
  • The spring 2021 semester will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, which is the Tuesday after the observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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


While we are planning for face-to-face instruction for the majority of the fall 2020 semester, we are developing protocols to practice social distancing in the classroom and all across campus. There are several faculty and staff groups working together to identify appropriate physical distancing, density in spaces, and alternative scheduling options and locations for classes. The groups are putting together a menu of options to help academic departments and instructors ensure adequate distancing inside classrooms, lecture halls, labs, and other instructional spaces. Many courses are being designed as hybrid models, minimizing the need for the full class to attend physically at the same time. Regardless of format, all UCA classes will be designed to allow for a pivot to remote or online attendance and instruction if required. These plans are still in progress, but you can expect to see updates in the coming weeks.


The health and well-being of our students and campus community are always top priorities. Our UCA Student Health Clinic, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Health and local and regional health systems, will be 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).

We also have an isolation housing plan in place to safely isolate and support any students living on campus who test positive for COVID-19. We are preparing multiple buildings — including reserving the entirety of Carmichael Hall — that will be dedicated to serve those students who test positive for COVID-19 and cannot return home to isolate for the required 14 days. Academic accommodations will be provided for any student undergoing mandatory isolation or quarantine. University health officials will monitor all positive cases daily and ensure students receive the care and resources they need.


In all aspects of our response efforts, we continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). We will follow their guidance on the use of and best practices for double-occupancy rooms in the fall. 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 complete the Housing Exemption Form found here.


The move to online instruction in March exposed inequities of access to technology for UCA students. Addressing this is an institutional priority for the university. Almost 3,000 continuing students, all identified as having received Pell grants, received a $400 CARES Act grant in early May. This grant was provided to help students with expenses related to the COVID-19 disruption, including their possible need for a laptop. In addition, a laptop initiative for incoming freshmen without financial support for a laptop purchase is underway. Students may find more information and request assistance here. 

We know and understand that there will be many additional questions in the coming weeks. This planning process is ongoing, and we will share details as soon as they are available. To stay apprised of all planning for the fall and for more information about cleaning and sanitizing, face coverings, and other details related to COVID-19 that are not covered here, please visit our new website for COVID-19 information and response. You can also email questions and concerns to