COVID-19 Update: Mask Requirement – Weekly Warning System and Updates

Update from President Houston Davis to students, faculty, and staff

It is becoming increasingly clear that a combination of higher vaccination rates and masking in indoor settings will be necessary to manage the heightened virus spread and ensure that we have a normal and engaged start to our fall semester. While we continue to monitor the legal process and developments around the court challenges to the mask mandate law, this email is to provide you with an update regarding our internal planning related to mask requirements, but first, I wanted to share some disturbing statistics from our two local hospitals.

As I type this message, Conway Regional has 37 active COVID hospitalizations and Baptist Health-Conway has 22. That combined 59 is equal to the previous peak reported in our Testing and Tracing Consortium on January 5. Conway Regional has seen 137 COVID patients since June 1, and it has been confirmed that 88 percent were unvaccinated. We are seeing that the Delta variant spreads much faster than previous variants even among vaccinated individuals when unmasked. With concerns for community spread requiring consideration of both vaccination and masking strategies, we must make adjustments to our operations for the next few weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently places this region of the state of Arkansas at “High Risk” on their Level of Community Transmission statistics. This is on a scale of Low, Moderate, Substantial, and High.

The university will use a three-color system alerting campus of our community transmission status and what actions faculty, staff, and students should take regarding masking.

  • RED – This means the CDC has this region of Arkansas at a Substantial or High Risk of community transmission. Masks will be required on campus in indoor spaces.
  • YELLOW – When the CDC lists this region of Arkansas at Moderate Risk, we will encourage the use of masks indoors.
  • GREEN – Once the CDC lists the region as Low Risk, the campus will follow normal business and operational patterns.

Current Status for Faulkner County and Surrounding Region


Effective immediately masks are required in campus indoor settings including classrooms, common areas, and shared spaces of all buildings. Personal offices, personal residence hall rooms, and apartments are excluded.

The CDC updates the data weekly, so we will send an email to all students, faculty, and staff on Sundays verifying the status for the coming week. The UCA homepage and our COVID portal will have a banner that updates weekly on the same schedule and with the same info. If you want to keep up for yourself, link to the CDC page, and you will see the same information every Saturday evening and will be able to predict the Sunday email and any possible change to status.

If we want to have a stable and normal pattern to our fall semester, we must work together and take steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 — including encouraging vaccines and having periods of required masking in indoor settings. Thank you for your continued support for the health and well-being of our campus community.