Masks are required as the campus is at red status.

COVID-19 Update: September 10, 2021

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

I hope you all had an enjoyable Labor Day, and this short week has been positive and productive. I trust that you are beginning to familiarize yourself with all of the academic and extracurricular opportunities that are available on campus this fall.

Labor Day was always a benchmark date for the Pandemic Planning and Response Team. We knew that if we could make it through the Labor Day holiday with minimal disruption due to COVID-19 that we would have a good indication of how we would operate during the remainder of the semester. Though our state has felt significant negative impacts from the Delta variant, we are beginning to see positive trends in our data but must remain vigilant.

While the pandemic is far from over, we have reason to believe that we are toward the tail end of the recent spike in cases in our area. Conway Regional and Baptist Health-Conway have fewer COVID-19 patients in beds, and the active cases in Faulkner County continue to decrease. Our campus community is also doing a great job in the following areas:

  • Vaccinations are up. Over 1,202 employees have participated in the vaccine incentive program, putting us at well over 75% of employees that are partially or fully vaccinated. We also know that we are approaching 65% of students partially or fully vaccinated.
  • Voluntary testing is up. The Student Health Clinic is running a higher volume of weekly COVID-19 tests among the general campus population than we were seeing last year. Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms are self-identifying, and they are taking the appropriate steps to safeguard our community. With increased testing, we are also happy to report that the percentage of positive test results has also decreased. We have an adequate supply of tests to continue testing individuals in our community, and testing turn-around times have continued to be less than 18 hours, and in almost all cases are available in 15 minutes.
  • Masking is working. Though we have had positive cases of COVID-19 on campus, consistent masking has helped prevent widespread quarantines and classroom transmission. It is easy to become relaxed in our mask-wearing as time goes on, but in order for masking to be effective, the mask must fully cover the user’s nose and mouth. Let’s be conscientious of our mask-wearing etiquette and continue to follow all masking requirements that have been put into place.
  • Available quarantine and isolation housing remain adequate. As of 8 a.m., Sept. 9, we had no individuals currently using our dedicated spaces for isolation and quarantine. When those spaces have been needed, we have been able to quickly transport students and provide meals and support as part of our quarantine and isolation housing protocols. Thank you to Housing and Residence Life, the Student Health Clinic, and Aramark for ensuring the health, safety, and comfort of those students that need to use these spaces.
  • PPE is readily available. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) committee continues to meet and monitor our campus inventory of masks, cleaning supplies, and other PPE. These supplies are available upon request, and we are also placing extra masks in all buildings so that they are easily accessible for visitors or anyone that has forgotten their mask. A special thank you to the Physical Plant for their stewardship of these resources.

I hope you find this information to be helpful and promising. The Pandemic Planning and Response Team and our local Testing and Tracing Consortium continue to meet weekly to monitor the local conditions and our campus response. COVID-19 will continue to be with us throughout this academic year, and we are learning to navigate our environment despite this challenge. You are commended for the excellent work you are doing both inside and outside of the classroom.