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Fall 2020 Campus Operations

Ouachita has been planning since April for the return to on-campus learning, residential life and activities in the fall. This page outlines current plans and policies and will be updated as additional details are available. Additionally, current and incoming students will receive updates to their Ouachita email accounts, and short updates will be provided on Ouachita’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

These plans for the fall remain fluid as we seek to draw on the latest data and be nimble in our response to the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape.

Ouachita’s Health Monitoring and Action Team (HMAT), chaired by University Physician and Vice President for Student Development Dr. Wesley Kluck, have led the planning. The HMAT has worked collaboratively with offices across campus as well as with state and local health officials and other universities to recommend these protocols for the fall; it also is working through the COVID-19 Planning Guide and Self-Assessment for Higher Education, a 626-item checklist from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The university also follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

 

Take Care, Tigers
 
As we learn more about COVID-19 and additional data emerges, we know that personal responsibility and a few basic guidelines matter tremendously to keeping each individual and our broader community safe. You will see reminders of these around campus: wash your hands, wear a face covering and observe physical distancing. Even if you do not believe you have COVID-19 or are not “high risk” yourself, you could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus; these are the most effective things we can do to protect others in our community. It must be a group effort to keep each other safe. Take care, Tigers!
 

While Ouachita faculty and staff are taking many precautions to make campus a safe place to live and learn this fall, there are many things that are the personal responsibility of each member of the Ouachita community.

Clean your hands frequently and properly:
  • Use soap and water when possible, washing for 20 seconds.
  • Take advantage of additional hand sanitizer stations placed across campus. 
  • Additionally, each student will receive a personal hand sanitizer on arrival to campus.
  • Scrub the front and back of your hands, taking care to wash between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • It’s especially important to wash before eating or preparing food, before touching your face, after leaving a public place, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing or after handling your cloth face covering.
  • Avoid touching your face.
Follow good respiratory etiquette:
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash immediately.
Keep your living space clean and orderly:
  • Wear gloves for routine cleaning and disinfection.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (like doorknobs, light switches, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, remotes) at least daily. 
  • Clean visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection (see EPA-recommended disinfectants).
  • Launder clothing, linens and other items according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Consider going minimalist this year in your residence hall or apartment; it’s easier to keep a simpler space clean.

 

Updated July 17, 2020

Face coverings can be hot and uncomfortable. We get it. However, we also know that consistent use of masks and other face coverings is one of the best things we can do to protect members of our community from COVID-19. Because the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, masks help keep those droplets from getting to nearby people. A cloth mask may only offer partial protection to the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others. Because we can spread the virus even while we are not experiencing symptoms, we all should wear them to protect each other. Ouachita prides itself on its sense of community and selfless service, and we're counting on you to live that out this semester. 

What kind of face coverings should I wear?
  • ​​Cloth masks with more than one layer and that are washable are ideal, although disposable paper or surgical masks are acceptable. 
  • Face shields are not currently approved as they are not proven to protect those in proximity of the wearer.
  • Every student, faculty and staff member will receive one Ouachita face mask at the beginning of the semester. 
  • We encourage you to have 3-7 washable masks on hand to have an ample, rotating supply to keep them clean.
  • Learn from the CDC how to make your own cloth face covering.
 
When do I wear my mask?
When may I remove my mask?
  • ​​When you are alone in your private office or workspace. If someone enters the space, you should put your mask on.
  • Outdoors when you are able to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing.
  • When you are actively eating or drinking. Please put your mask back on during or after meals when you are visiting with friends.
  • When giving a presentation or teaching inside, your mask may be removed for a short period of time if needed for a demonstration.
  • When singing or performing inside, a covering is not required if a 12-foot distance can be maintained.
  • In your residence hall or apartment when you are with only your roommate or suite mates (or for O.C. Bailey, Susie Everett and Georgia Hickingbotham residents, your hall mates). We will call this your Student Family Group this semester.
 
How do I wear my mask? 
  • Wash your hands before and after handling a mask.
  • Place the mask snugly over your nose and mouth and against the sides of your face.
  • You should be able to breathe normally with your mask on.
  • Don't put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead.
  • Remove the mask by holding the strings, and fold the outside corners in to "close" it when it's removed.
  • Wash your cloth mask after every wear with your regular laundry and on the warmest appropriate setting. Dry completely. To air dry, place the mask in direct sunlight, if possible. See more from the CDC about washing your mask.​

Remember, while wearing masks is a good measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19, physical distancing and​ frequent, thorough handwashing are still the best ways to avoid getting the virus. See more on face coverings from the CDC.

 

Updated July 19, 2020

It’s in the Ouachita DNA to be social, but how does that happen in a social-distance environment? We prefer to use the term "physical distancing" because we still believe our social connections can and will be alive and well this semester. However, because limiting close face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19, physical distancing will be a part of virtually every part of campus this semester. We will follow the CDC's recommended 6 feet of distance between individuals (about two arms' length). This distance helps avoid the spread of respiratory droplets when we cough, sneeze or talk. As COVID-19 primarily spreads from person-to-person contact, keeping our distance is especially important.

How we'll keep our distance
  • Reminder "Take Care, Tigers!" signage will be​ placed around campus on doors, floors and more.
  • Certain spaces will have adjusted traffic flow, such as one-way stairwells or hallways.
  • Every room on campus will have an adjusted "COVID Capacity," which will be posted outside the room. This includes bathrooms, so be sure to knock and wait your turn using physical distancing. (Keep this reduced capacity in mind as you consider restroom breaks in your schedule; lines may move more slowly.) Elevators also will be single capacity.
  • Classroom seating will be spaced out, and larger rooms will be used as classrooms that don't typically served that purpose (like Tiger Den or Verser Theatre).
  • Visitation guidelines will change in the residence halls. (More on this to come.)
  • Because there will be reduced capacity in places like the student center and residence halls, additional spaces will be made available for students to safely gather (like Walker Conference Center).
  • Some offices on campus will have appointment policies rather than their typical walk-in options. Just call ahead to make sure you aren't arriving at a busy time.  
What can you do to help
  • Don't hug or handshake. We're a friendly campus, but let's use non-contact greetings for now.
  • Simply be aware and respectful of your distance from others. Remember that people have various comfort levels and anxiety about the pandemic. If you feel someone is crowding you, don't be shy to ask for more space. 
  • Be respectful of faculty/staff office spaces. Ask before entering, conduct your conversation from the doorway or move your meeting to a larger space. 
  • Watch for signage across campus. Each office could have slightly different approaches to how they manage their area based on personal needs or the physical limitations of the space.
  • Don't congregate in hallways. Before and after class, keep the traffic flow moving, and visit with friends outdoors or in larger spaces where distancing is easier to achieve.
  • Continue to practice physical distancing off campus. Limit your contact when running errands or choosing social activities. Avoid crowded places, and wash your hands any time you've been to a public area. Take advantage of the areas many beautiful outdoor recreation areas for fun and exercise.
Exceptions
  • ​​You do not have to practice physical distancing with other students in your residence life Student Family Group (roommates, suitemates). You'll get more tips for distancing in residence facilities from your resident directors when you move in.
  • In certain spaces, like hallways, distancing could be difficult to achieve. In these instances, simply keep moving to minimize the time spent in close quarters with others.
Maintaining Social Connections
  • ​​Just because we are physically distant this semester, we still encourage you to be socially connected. We will have creative ways you can still enjoy social life at Ouachita and encourage you to engage your imagination, as well. 
  • If you are struggling with this new environment, please reach out to your RA or RD or to Counseling Services.

 

Updated July 19, 2020

T​Throughout the semester, every member of the campus communit​y is expected to monitor their own symptoms daily for COVID-19. Students, as well as faculty and staff, will each receive a digital thermometer in addition to a face mask and hand sanitizer. RDs and apartment managers also have thermometers on hand. Keep in mind that a fever is only one thing to watch for. The following symptoms all are associated with COVID-19:

  • Coughing/Shortness of Breath/Difficulty Breathing
  • Fever/Chills
  • New Sinus Congestion
  • Generalized Muscle Aches
  • Unusual, Sudden-onset Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue
  • New GI Symptoms
  • New Loss of Taste or Smell

If you experience any of these symptoms: 

  1. Complete the Symptom Self-Checker on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html​. This screening will guide you on next steps, such as the need for a COVID-19 test, consultation with a medical professional or self-quarantine.
  2. Contact Health Services to inform them of your screening results. If needed, a telemedicine or in-person visit will be scheduled. 
  3. Ouachita will have on-campus testing for COVID-19 through the fall. If you need to be tested for COVID-19, Health Services can help guide you through that process. (More information about testing, what happens if you contract COVID-19 and quarantine procedures is coming soon.)

 

Updated July 30, 2020

Health Services

  • Walk-in services are temporarily unavailable to maximize physical distancing and minimize interactions among sick individuals. Call before stopping by: 870-245-5244.
  • Increased telemedicine appointments will be available using secure software that can be accessed via a PC, phone or other mobile device. 
  • In-person appointments will be available as needed following initial phone or telemed screening.
  • There will be designated times for well visits that cannot be accommodated via telemedicine, such as allergy shots, TB screening and flu shots.
  • Keep in mind that the majority of illnesses that occur after hours can be seen the next day. Do not go to the Emergency Room if you think you have been exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19 unless you are having emergency medical symptoms (trouble breathing and pain or pressure in your chest). If you have questions about what to do after hours, check first with your RA and RD.

Counseling Services

  • The pandemic has been an unusually stressful time for everyone. We are here to help. Counseling Services now has five counselors available to meet your needs.
  • See online resources by Counseling Services on the Ouachita Stories Blog.
  • In-person counseling sessions will continue with physical distancing and masks in place. Request an appointment at obu.edu/counseling
  • Telecounseling also will be available. Ask for this service when you request your appointment.

 

Updated July 30, 2020

Testing

At this time, the CDC does not recommend campus-wide testing of students, faculty and staff prior to returning to campus in the fall.

Ouachita will offer on-campus testing for COVID-19 with same-day results. Testing will be available for students, faculty, staff and employee family members, and health insurance will be taken. Quick results will help us make fast and well-informed decisions about quarantine and isolation. More details on where on-campus testing will be located and protocols for getting a test are forthcoming.
 

Testing also is available locally to individuals experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. 

Contact Tracing

Ouachita is working closely with and under the direction of the Arkansas Department of Health and UAMS to provide contact tracing support for the on-campus community. Approximately 30 trained Ouachita students and staff members, including all residence hall directors will form our campus team and will treat all information exchanged confidentially. They will call to inform, educate and check in on anyone directly connected to a COVID-19 case. It’s important that you notify Ouachita Health Services if you test positive for COVID-19 so that our internal team can handle contact tracing for your case as efficiently as possible.
 

 

Updated July 30, 2020

Where do I go for quarantine or isolation?

No one wants to be quarantined or isolated for COVID-19. However, we must have contingency plans to prepare for that possibility. Because residence facilities at universities were not built to meet CDC guidelines for quarantine/isolation, students are expected to have their own plans of action for quarantine or isolation. Please think through this plan with your family prior to arriving on campus for the fall semester. For the protection of our campus community, students may not remain in on-campus housing for quarantine or isolation, unless living in a Ouachita apartment, and must receive approval from Ouachita Health Services to return. Exceptions may be granted to students unable to return home due to distance or other factors based on availability on campus. Appeals for exceptions will not be accepted in advance. Review CDC recommendations on caring for someone who is sick here.

 

What do I do if I am sick? (View a flowchart.)

  1. Evaluate if you need to be tested for COVID-19 by contacting Ouachita’s Office of Health Services (OHS) at 870-245-5244, your resident director, apartment manager or resident assistant. You may also use the CDC’s online Self-Checker (report your screening result to OHS).
  2. Do not go to class or public spaces if you are sick, even if you test negative for COVID-19; you could test positive later.
  3. If testing is recommended, isolate until you have results.
  4. If testing is not recommended, take care at home or in your residence facility until you are better.
  5. If you test positive for COVID-19:
  6. Report your test results to OHS at 870-245-5244 and to your RD/apartment manager (students) or supervisor (employees).
  7. Isolate at home away from others until released (typically 10 days).
  8. Cooperate with contact tracers by keeping a log of your symptoms and temperature and providing information about those you’ve been in close contact with. Please answer phone calls from unrecognized numbers.
  9. Continue class/work remotely if your symptoms aren’t severe. Contact your instructors/supervisor to work out the details of remote learning/working. Student Development also will verify students’ absence with instructors.
  10. Do not return to campus without a release. Contact OHS at 870-245-5244 or covid@obu.edu to obtain a release or to submit a release obtained from another source. Employees should receive a release from the Arkansas Department of Health or their physician. Be sure to bring a copy of your release with you to campus to show your supervisor or others who request it.
  11. If you test negative for COVID-19: Take care at home or in your residence facility until you are symptom-free.

 

What do I do if I’m exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19? (View a flowchart.)

  1. Evaluate if you are considered a close contact with the individual. For students, this includes your Student Family Group and possibly your athletic team. For everyone, this includes being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more of the positive individual. See the CDC’s definition of a close contact.
  2. If you are not a “close contact,” carry on as usual and continue monitoring your symptoms.
  3. If you are a “close contact,” quarantine immediately.
  4. Report your exposure to OHS at 870-245-5244 and to your RD/apartment manager (students) or supervisor (employees).
  5. Quarantine for 14 days since your last exposure and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
  6. Get tested for COVID-19.
  7. If you develop symptoms, get a COVID-19 test immediately.
  8. If you do not develop symptoms, get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after exposure.
  9. If you test positive, refer to the process above. (What do I do if I am sick?)
  10. If you test negative, remain in quarantine for the complete 14 days; the infection can begin any time in the 14 day period, even after your negative result.
  11. Cooperate with contact tracers as they check in on your symptoms and temperature. Please answer phone calls from unrecognized numbers.
  12. Continue class or work remotely. Contact your instructors/supervisor to work out the details of remote learning/working. Student Development also will verify students’ absence with instructors.
  13. Do not return to campus without a release. Contact OHS at 870-245-5244 or covid@obu.edu to obtain a release or to submit a release obtained from another source. Employees should receive a release from the Arkansas Department of Health or their physician. Be sure to bring a copy of your release with you to campus to show your supervisor or others who request it.

 

Definitions

  • Quarantine: Separating yourself from others because you have been in close contact with someone who has had COVID-19. Quarantine lasts 14 days from your last close contact with someone who has COVID-19. People in quarantine should stay home, social distance from others in the household and monitor their health. Learn more about quarantine from the CDC.
  • Isolation: Separating yourself from others because you are infected with COVID-19 or because you are waiting on a COVID-19 test result. People in isolation should stay home away from others. (Consult with your physician about additional care if illness is severe.) Isolation lasts at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, at least 24 hours with no fever (without medication) and should be exhibiting no symptoms. For asymptomatic individuals, isolation lasts 10 days since the date of the positive test. Learn more about isolation from the CDC.
  • Contact Tracing: Contact tracing is a public health strategy that identifies and monitors individuals who have come in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to educate them on best practices for quarantine. When executed quickly, this helps prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Asymptomatic: To have COVID-19 but not exhibit any symptoms of the virus. Asymptomatic individuals are still contagious, which is why masks, distancing, hygiene and quarantine measures are in place for even those who feel well.
  • Close Contact: A close contact for quarantine and contact tracing purposes is defined as being within 6 feet of an individual for 15 minutes or longer (regardless of face coverings). For Ouachita students, this automatically includes your Student Family Group (roommates, suitemates or hallmates, depending on your residence hall). Athletics teams who engage in close contact also are included. Others also are considered close contacts if they cross the 6-feet + 15-minute barrier. If you follow the new spacing requirements for seating in classes, you are not considered a close contact of your classmates.

 

Updated July 30, 2020

We recognize that certain individuals are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or have health conditions that will make following COVID-19 guidelines difficult. Read more online about our Accommodations for Residential Students. Faculty and staff needing accommodations should refer to the internal Human Resources website for more information.

Students who do not qualify for accommodations for health reasons but believe their circumstances warrant a COVID-19-related exception to the policy requiring their return to campus may submit a written request to their dean via email. See "Other Exceptions" on the Accommodations for Residential Students webpage.

If you fall into a high-risk category, we recommend also consulting with your physician and consulting these CDC recommendations for additional protection measures.


Updated July 30, 2020

Surface Sanitation: Additional sanitation processes will be carried out by facilities management staff across campus throughout the semester; additionally, self-service sanitation supplies will be available in every classroom. Disinfecting foggers will be used nightly in classrooms and other indoor public spaces. Extra touchless hand sanitizer stations will be available in public spaces throughout campus and refilled nightly.

Air Quality: In consultation with HVAC and air science specialists, adjustments are being made to Ouachita’s indoor air flow to reduce the airborne spread of the virus. More outside air will be circulated in the buildings, air temperature and humidity levels will be optimized, plexiglass barriers will be installed in select locations and filtration systems are being optimized. Additionally, each classroom and meeting room and many common spaces will feature new air purification units that utilize photohydroinionization and UV technology that is even more advanced than HEPA technology.

 

Updated July 30, 2020

Evans Student Center and Gathering Spaces: For all indoor campus life spaces such as Evans Student Center, we’ll follow guidelines for masks and physical distancing. We’ll also make Walker Conference Center and selected classrooms available in the evenings for social and study spaces. We anticipate increased use of our outdoor spaces such as the Evans Student Center overlook balcony, Neighbor’s Table and Ouachita Singers and Rachel Fuller Memorial Amphitheatre and are adding more picnic tables across campus.

Large Gatherings (Chapel, Fine Arts Events, Tiger Tunes, etc.): Large indoor gatherings for Chapel, fine arts events, and other purposes will be governed by the latest guidance in regard to attendance. Current guidelines restricting attendance and maintaining social distancing will prevent many large gatherings from happening as they typically do. Alternative arrangements are being explored for these, and additional details will be available later this summer. 

Social Life: Part of the Ouachita experience is a diverse and robust number of organizations and activities. Some events may need to be very different or even postponed to the spring. Our students are creative, and we’ll be creative together in adjusting our traditions and programs and in discovering new ways to interact together.

Athletics: Working with the NCAA and the Great American Conference, we’re planning for our student-athletes to practice and compete. In-person attendance will be based on the latest guidance from the state. The Ouachita Sports Digital Network will continue their good work of livestreaming many of our sporting events online. 

 

Updated July 7, 2020

Our various campus dining options will follow the most recent guidelines by the CDC and Arkansas Department of Health, which are subject to change. Signage and campus dining staff will be available in each venue to help you navigate as things may change.​

Getting Food
  • Buffet-style stations will be converted to staff-served or to-go options, and Dr. Jack's drip coffee will be served at the counter.
  • To-go options will increase, including moving “Tiger Express” to the lobby of Walker near the Commons for easier access.
  • Selections in Evans Food Court will be streamlined to expedite service to minimize crowds, including the addition of combo meals at Chick-fil-A and Tiger Grill and a limited menu at Sandella's.
  • Single use utensils and plates will be made more available, and reusable utensils will be pre-wrapped for each individual.
  • Simple Servings and options for special dietary needs still will be available.
  • Traffic flow has been re-routed to allow for physical distancing while you wait in line, as you choose your meal and as you exit. 
  • In Evans Student Center, additional registers will be available to minimize wait times. 
  • Signage and extra staff will be available to help you.
 
Seating
  • Seating in Ouachita Commons will be reduced to meet current Arkansas Department of Health guidelines. Currently, that means 6 per round table and reduced booth seating. 
  • In Evans Student Center, all tables will be removed from the food court to improve traffic flow. 
  • Tables will replace the couches near Dr. Jack’s Coffeehouse, and plexiglass barriers are being installed between booths.
  • Use of outdoor spaces for dining will be encouraged, such as the existing Evans Student Center overlook balcony and Neighbor’s Table and new picnic tables being installed across campus.
Sanitation
  • Dining Services staff will wear recommended PPE and will execute elevated cleaning protocols, including cleaning and disinfection after each table is used.
  • Additional plexiglass barriers will be in place throughout the dining facilities, and touchless ID card scanning will be available.
  • Self-serve sanitation supplies also will be available to individuals in the dining facilities.
  • Diners are required to wear masks in the dining facilities any time they are not actively eating or drinking.

 

Updated July 17, 2020

Classroom Spaces: Ouachita has sufficient academic space to conduct most of our classes in person while observing CDC guidelines on six-foot physical distancing. Each classroom is being configured for a new “COVID-19 capacity” based on this standard. Campus auditoriums and other large spaces, such as Walker Conference Center, will make it possible for even our largest classes to meet at their scheduled times. In some limited cases, it may be necessary to divide classes and offer them at alternate times. Some lab courses, practicums, studio and performance-based classes may also require alternate arrangements, such as a combination of face-to-face and remote instruction. To reduce the risks of virus transmission, students will be required to wear face coverings in class. 

Students will be notified when their course schedules, accessed through the INFO web portal, have been adjusted to reflect alternate classroom arrangements. Any students who discover a conflict created by adjustments to the course schedule are encouraged to contact their advisor or dean and make alternate arrangements to avoid disrupting their academic progress.

Course Delivery Methods: Ouachita will provide as much face-to-face classroom instruction as possible, consistent with health and safety guidelines to protect students, faculty and staff. In some cases, the installation of new instructional technology will allow students who are not present to participate remotely. Faculty are also working to expand their use of Moodle and other remote learning tools to make class content available through a variety of methods. If a faculty member is in a high-risk category, additional adjustments may be made to their classes.

 

Updated July 7, 2020

Move-In: Move-in for all students will be Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 13-15, on a staggered schedule to minimize crowds. For detailed information, see https://obu.edu/reslife/move-in.php for returning student information and https://obu.edu/studentlife/move-in-information.php for new student information. 

Student Family Groups: Within a residence hall, based on shared bathrooms and common spaces, each student is assigned to a “Student Family Group” (SFG). Within your SFG, expectations about physical distancing and face masks are relaxed. 

Visitation Policies: Guests during open hall nights will be limited to one guest per room.

Increased Cleaning Protocols: Enhanced cleaning in all common areas and high-touch surfaces will be added to current procedures. These protocols will follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting facilities for COVID-19.

 

Updated July 7, 2020

PAGE LAST UPDATED JULY 30, 2020

 

Questions?

If you have a question or concern that isn’t addressed above, complete the following form to submit it for consideration. With many plans in process, it’s possible that it is already being evaluated but details have not yet been released. Keep checking this page for additional updates. Form submissions may not each receive individual responses.

 

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