OZARK, Ark. (June 8, 2020)--Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus is implementing sanitization and social distancing protocols necessary for a safe return to on-campus operations for its students, faculty and staff.

Lab-intensive instruction will return to campus on a limited basis at the beginning of the second summer term on Monday, July 6.

Faculty, staff and students returning to on-campus instruction will undergo health screening, practice social distancing and be required to wear face coverings in the limited lab environments. Faculty will undergo safety training to support best practices while in the lab environment.

When the potential exists, remote or virtual instruction will continue to be preferred at ATU-Ozark during the second summer term so as to limit the number of individuals on campus at any given moment.

The additional measures are part of Arkansas Tech’s mitigation of and recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We have a dual responsibility to provide a safe learning environment while simultaneously offering the educational programs that help drive economic development and job growth in our communities,” said Bruce Sikes, ATU-Ozark Campus chancellor. “As a regional commuter campus, circumstances can change quickly and we ask students to remain consistent with the guidance provided by the Arkansas Department of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the ATU COVID-19 task force and local authorities. Each of these entities will assist us in our safe return to campus.”

Sikes added that ATU-Ozark is “optimistically planning” to offer on-campus classes during the fall 2020 semester in accordance with the ATU pandemic recovery framework.

ATU-Ozark will make safety supplies and equipment available to faculty, staff and students as part of the return to campus. These measures will include additional hand sanitizer stations, utilization of CDC-approved cleaning techniques and making masks available to members of the campus community who cannot provide their own.

The transition plan for ATU-Ozark also includes provisions for individuals who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and specialized plans for students who are at an increased risk due to occupational training, with a focus on the health professions.

“We are procuring the supplies and equipment necessary to provide a safe environment,” said Dr. Sheila Jacobs, ATU-Ozark chief academic officer. “Our classrooms are also being readied to promote the virtual environment as situations require. We also recognize that the situation can change rapidly. ATU-Ozark is prepared to move to remote and virtual operations if the situation arises.

“Through the planning and support of our campus community, I am confident in our ability to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19,” continued Jacobs. “We look forward to the safe return to campus of our students and the life-changing academic opportunities they will find there.”