FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — We’re about a month away from the start of a new school year including the University of Arkansas.
With thousands of students from all over the world expected to descend on the Fayetteville campus, is the university prepared to handle the load and risks during an ongoing pandemic?
Students and staff haven’t set foot inside a classroom since March.
It's a surreal feeling for students like Hannah Grace Woods who’s returning to Arkansas from her home in Texas for her senior year.
“I was optimistic at first and excited, but now I just find myself being more sad thinking about my last year being kind of broken up into not what I expected it to be," Woods said.
On Wednesday, the Fayetteville Board of Health met virtually to discuss various topics including the impending influx of thousands of students from out of state.
A university spokesperson says those coming from out of state won’t be treated differently.
“Everyone that’s coming to campus is assuming the same risks, but the safety of our campus community is our top priority," said Manager of University Communications, John Thomas.
Even before the governor’s mask mandate, the university announced its own requirement. Masks must be worm inside buildings and any public area where social distancing is impossible.
“We expect our campus community to comply with that guidance," Thomas said.
Flexible learning options will be available to students and staff.
With about 28% of courses now shifting to online-only, that could change in the coming weeks.
“I got an email like two days ago saying all my classes were online, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get to be back on campus," Woods said.
Classrooms are being set up in a way to promote social distancing and personal protective kits with masks and sanitizing products will be given to all students and staff.
“We’re all in this together and I hope it can get back to where we can all be back on campus again," Woods said.
General move-in for those living on campus starts on August 14.
The fall semester begins on August 24.