UAFS COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

 

In light of recent developments relating to the coronavirus, which causes the flu-like illness COVID-19, the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is working to prepare the campus community for any student, faculty, or staff accommodations that may be necessary. Health and safety continue to be our top priorities.
 
The university is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and aligning our preparation and prevention planning with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Arkansas State Department of Health, and the University of Arkansas system. 
 
Our chancellor, Dr. Terisa Riley, will continue to send messages to campus regarding changes, updates, and the university’s planning process.
 
 
University leaders are communicating daily to develop and refine short- and long-term contingency plans and to respond rapidly to emerging issues. As new information becomes available, this page will be updated, and we will communicate via email and social media.
 
The university has created a Resource Guide for adapting to online course delivery and navigating aid processes during the COVID-19 crisis, and to help meet your academic, health and wellness, digital engagement, technology, and financial needs.
 

During these chaotic times, we know students may face unexpected financial burdens, and as a university we will do our best to help students meet those needs. The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Foundation's Student Emergency Fund allows us to provide immediate support to students who encounter unforeseen financial emergencies that may otherwise prevent them from continuing their education. These funds do not need to be repaid, as the program aims to address a wide array of critical student needs in a time of emergency - especially one such as the COVID-19 crisis.

 

 
 
 

UAFS Students & Families:

 

University Updates:

Is the university closing?

The university is not closing. University operations will continue, and staff and faculty will continue their work remotely. 

Housing and dining services will continue with limited offerings and advanced safety and disinfecting efforts in place to protect students and staff. 

The Boreham Library will offer primarily digital services, including live-chat and e-book resources.

The 24-hour computer labs in the library and campus center will remain open. The labs will be sanitized regularly and computers cleaned after each use.

Campus events will be suspended until the end of the semester.

Advising appointments will be completed remotely.

Is the university moving all of its classes to remote instruction?

Yes. The university, in compliance with directives set forth by the University of Arkansas System and recommendations from the CDC, will hold all classes online through the end of the Sumer 2020 terms. 

This website will be updated with any new information. 

Why did UAFS decide to move to remote instruction?

The COVID-19 situation in the state of Arkansas and around the country is rapidly evolving. With new positive cases in the state nearly every day, this move is in the best interest of our students, faculty, and staff. 

Academics, Grades & Tests:

What does an alternative educational experience mean?

Alternative educational experiences are assignments given by faculty in lieu of strictly online course delivery.  For example, some students are able to use simulation laboratories for health sciences classes, and that is outside of Blackboard.  Faculty will make decisions about those educational experiences and communicate them to their students. 

How do I find my courses online?

All UAFS courses have a landing page called a “shell" in Blackboard. 

To access your classes, visit My.UAFS and select the Students tab.

Select the “Log into Blackboard Learn” option on the left side of the Students screen. 

What if I am not familiar with Blackboard?

Training videos for students on the use of Blackboard are available here: https://academics.uafs.edu/distance-learning/getting-ready-take-online-c... This link takes you to the student resource page for how to use various elements within Blackboard. 

Students can also use Brainfuse for online tutoring in many subjects. These resources are available 24/7.

 

What if I struggle in online classes?

Provost Georgia Hale has discussed the difficult transition with faculty members to encourage them to work with students who are struggling.

Faculty have also been encouraged to be flexible with students who are ill.

We know this situation is beyond our students' control, and we do not want you to be penalized for it.

Some faculty are teaching online or remotely for the first time, and students are encouraged to be patient and communicate concerns directly with their faculty members.

 

Will I be allowed to continue my internship?

Summer interns working off-campus but on-site at various employer locations are responsible for providing their department or college with a copy of the employer's workplace policy regarding COVID-19.

Note that UAFS does not require on-site internships in order to satisfy internship credit requirements.

Students are encouraged to work with their internship sponsors to assess personal health risks and develop plans to protect their safety and work remotely where possible.

 

How will I complete my tests?

Students may be tested through alternative means of assessment or may use Examity or Blackboard, with or without Respondus LockDown Browser, to test.

Testing methods will be communicated by each professor.

The ASC is not currently open for testing. However, online tutoring services are available, as are academic coaching consultations.

ADA Coordinator Dana Andreassen is available remotely for students needing assistance. She can be reached at 479-788-7577 or Dana.Andreassen@uafs.edu

 

What if I need to take a PSB test?

If you are unable to schedule or take the PSB (Professional Service Bureau) exam, it will not harm/count against your entry into the College of Health Sciences this fall. Please stay in touch with your advisor. You will be informed of a path forward once all decisions have been made.

 

Are there any adjustments to grading policies?

Yes. In an effort to prevent potentially negative educational outcomes for students, and in consultation with Student Government Association, Faculty Senate, and University Staff Council, Chancellor Riley approved offering an emergency pass/withdrawal grade option for students enrolled this full semester and for the second eight-week spring semester courses.

Students will receive letter grades for all spring 2020 and summer 2020 classes, and after final grades are posted, students will have three choices: 

  • Keep the letter grades in their classes,
  • Elect to have letter grades from courses they have passed changed from a letter grade to “Passing” (P), or
  • Withdraw (W) from the course. 

Students may complete the Pass/Withdrawal Request Form after final grades are posted.

All requests must be received by the Office of the Registrar by 5 p.m., June 5, 2020 for spring classes. 

Dates to request P/W for summer classes will be announced soon.

Full details are available here: https://campuslife.uafs.edu/services/covid-grades

 

Will study abroad be impacted?

All university-related travel is suspended for the next 60 days effective immediately.

International student trips scheduled for this semester have been postponed.

Advising & Registration:

How will I complete advising for next semester's courses?

Please contact your advisor via your university email account to make arrangements to schedule your advising appointment remotely. 

If you have an existing appointment, contact your advisor immediately to determine the method that best works to keep that current appointment.

UAFS is committed to doing everything within our control to adhere to our published schedules of courses.

Frequently asked questions about the new digital advising services are answered here: https://academics.uafs.edu/advising/faq

 

What if I need additional help registering for classes?

We have created a full FAQ just for advising assistance. Visit it here: https://academics.uafs.edu/advising/faq

 

Can I drop a Spring 2020 course without coming to campus?

Yes. Courses can be dropped until April 10 via email from your UAFS email account to registrar@uafs.edu. The email should list your full name, student ID number, and course number, name, and CRN of the course(s) you wish to drop. The email should be copied to your professional advisor (if advised through ROAR) or your faculty advisor (if advised through a college advising center) and to the Financial Aid Office at finaid@uafs.edu

 

Can I request a transcript remotely?

Yes. Electronic official transcripts can be sent to institutions and individuals (including yourself) via the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), our third-party provider. There is a $3.00 fee for this service, payable to NSC by credit card. A physical address and a valid email address are required.

Official transcripts will not be released if there is any outstanding financial obligation to UAFS.

Current students can view and print an unofficial transcript by visiting My.UAFS and selecting the Student Services option followed by Financial Aid and View Transcripts. 

 

Housing & Dining:

Will I have to move out of my dorm?

No. The university is not closing its doors.

Students who live in campus residences are not being asked to leave their residence. 

We know on-campus housing frequently serves as the primary or permanent residence of students who have aged out of the Arkansas foster care system, international students, married couples, and students who have health or safety risks at their parents’ homes.

The UAFS Housing Office is available to answer additional housing questions at 479-788-7340 or housing@uafs.edu

International students who have further questions or concerns may also contact the Office of International Relations at 479-788-7977 or email international@uafs.edu.

Will I have safe access to food if I remain on campus?

Carry-out and Grab-and-go options will remain available from dining services.

Dining services will arrange meal delivery to on-campus students who are ill.

Dining Services employees change out service utensils, change gloves, and wipe down high touch areas every 30 minutes; have switched to entirely single-use dishware, banned refillable cups, and will only offer seasonings and condiments that are in single-use packets.

Self-service stations have been closed to avoid cross-contamination.

This website will be updated with details as they are received from our food service provider.

The Lion Pride Food Pantry will continue to be stocked daily.

If you have needs beyond what the pantry can provide, please contact the dean of students for assistance at 479-788-7310 or Dave.Stevens@uafs.edu.

How do I request a dining delivery if I am ill?

Provide Aramark with at least one hour's notice for delivery.

Call 479-788-7313 to order your meal. Provide your name, UAFS ID number, and any dietary restrictions you may have. 

Meals will only be delivered to the Lion’s Den lobby or Sebastian Commons lobby. 

Breakfast delivery is available from 8-9 a.m., lunch delivery from 11 a.m. to noon, and dinner delivery from 5-6 p.m.

All meals will be based on the current daily menu options and come with disposable utensils and appropriate condiments. 

Financial Aid & Employment:

Will I have to pay a distance education fee?

The university did not charge online learners the traditional distance education fee for the Spring semester. 

 

Will Financial Aid be flexible if I get sick or need to withdraw?

The U.S. Education Department intends to give colleges and universities flexibility on financial aid requirements in response to COVID-19.

A March 5 directive from the Education Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education addresses Title IV regulations regarding students who are ill or quarantined, recalled from travel-abroad experiences or can no longer attend classes, internships or clinical rotations due to the coronavirus.
 

Will I be given any refunds if I was enrolled in Spring 2020 classes that moved online?

In a resolution passed April 8, 2020, the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees voted to allow universities that close down residence halls to provide a housing and/or food service refund for graduating seniors and credit for future housing for those students who are not graduating by August 31, 2020.

A Student Room and Board Refund/Credit Task Force has been formed which will review this option and bring forward recommendations, but UAFS has not formally closed university housing, so no refunds or credits will be issued until such time as we announce building closures.

The Board of Trustees did not vote to approve any other refunds or credits for any tuition, fees, or university charges.

The full text of the April 8 resolutions is available here: https://www.uasys.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2020/04/UA-Trustees-Ap...

If I am enrolled in Federal Work-Study, will I be compensated?

Guidance from the Department of Education notes that students who are enrolled in the Federal Work-Study program will continue to be paid for the average number of hours they are scheduled, even if they cannot report to work.

 

Am I required to report to work if I am a student worker?

No. Students who normally work on campus will not work on campus for the remainder of the semester. (Exceptions may be made for students employed through SSC or Aramark)

Please check with your immediate supervisor if you would like to discuss work that may be accomplished remotely.

 

Is there any Emergency Financial Assistance available to students?

Yes, the entire emergency assistance program can function remotely.

Contact Dr. Dave Stevens, dean of students, for more information at 479-788-7310 or Dave.Stevens@uafs.edu.

Health & Wellness:

What do I do if I feel ill?

If you develop flu-like symptoms, please stay at home and contact your primary care physician or the UAFS Powell Student Health Clinic, a free health and wellness resource for eligible students, at 479-788-7444 or studenthealth@UAFS.edu

Faculty and instructional staff have received communication from Provost Georgia Hale, who advised them to be flexible with academic assignments if students are ill. 

Can I access the Health Clinic?

Yes, the UAFS Powell Student Health Clinic will still provide services, but students should first make an appointment by contacting the clinic at 479-788-7444 or studenthealth@UAFS.edu

The Health Clinic is also able to provide essential wellness services over the phone at 479-788-7444.

Can I access the Counseling Center?

Yes, the Counseling Center will provide services, but students should first call  to make an appointment for either remote or in-person counseling at 479-788-7398

Students will have the opportunity to access counseling services via TeleHealth. Students wishing to access this service should call our Counseling Center at 479-788-7398. The Counseling Center staff will provide the student with detailed instructions on how to access the Doxyme platform.

What can I do if I am struggling emotionally or have concerns about my finances?

The DHS mental health and addictions hotline is available at 844-763-0198

The United Way's 2-1-1 hotline will provide resources and referrals for a wide variety of financial assistance as well as access to physical and mental health services. 

Are there any additional resources to help me succeed or find help?

Yes. The university has created a resource guide to meet your needs, assist with your education, keep you on track to graduate and create programming that keeps you engaged and healthy.

https://campuslife.uafs.edu/services/health-center/covid19-resources

Are COVID testing sites available within the River Valley region?

Yes. Anyone wishing to get tested can call 501-374-8225 or the CHCA (Community Health Centers of Arkansas) hotline at 833-508-0774. The cost is free even for the uninsured. The Sebastian county health department is offering COVID testing, along with the following local clinics:

  • Northside Clinic at 6th Street - 3202 N. 6th Street - Fort Smith - 479-783-3900
  • RVPCS Northside Clinic - 4900 Kelley Hwy. - Fort Smith - 479-785-5700
  • Baptist Health Urgent Care - 7600 Rogers Ave. - Fort Smith - 479-226-8340
  • RVPCS Eastside Clinc - 4003 Massard Rd. - Fort Smith - 479-434-4747
  • Ben Geren Safe Shelter-Baptist Health/Mercy - 7200 Zero Street - Fort Smith - 479-289-6508
  • Lavaca Wellness Center - 603 S. Division Street - Lavaca - 479-279-7700
  • Mountainburg Family Clinic - #4 Hwy. 71 NE - Mountainburg - 479-369-2091
  • Mulberry Family Clinic - 437 N. Main St. - Mulberry - 479-997-1484

 

Graduation/End of Term:

Will I be able to graduate on time?

As long as your degree requirements have been met, your degree will be conferred as scheduled.

The spring 2020 commencement ceremony will take place at a later date.

Should I order my cap and gown remotely?

  • The rescheduled date for Commencement has not been set. However, graduates may purchase their cap and gown through the Barnes and Noble/Herff Jones webpage.
  • Please know that per Barnes & Noble policy, graduation related items — including the cap, gown, and tassel — are non-refundable. Exchanges may be made if a different size is needed. 

How will I get my Cords and Honors?

  • Any student who has received a cord for a Registered Student Organization should contact that RSO president or advisor for more information.
     
  • The official determination of UAFS academic honors will be made after spring 2020 grades have been submitted and all degrees have been awarded. Graduates who earn University academic honors will be given the stole and/or cord appropriate to their honors.
  • Honors will also be noted on the transcript and diploma for eligible graduates and listed in the commencement program.

When will Commencement be held?

The university will announce a new date to honor spring 2020 graduates as soon as it is safe to doso.  

 

How do I return my rented textbooks?

  • The Textbook Rental Return due date has been extended to June 15th.
  • Students will receive an email with information on returning any rental textbooks by mail along with instructions for printing a free UPS return label.
  • Instructions and FAQ's regarding Rental Returns can also be found on the bookstore's website at www.uafs.bncollege.com by clicking on Textbook Rental Returns on the main page. We are not doing a curbside drop-off.

Resources & Assistance:

How do I access the internet if I don’t have the equipment at home?

Please complete the Technology Assessment in your student email, sent by Chancellor Riley on Thursday, March 19.

The 24-hour computer labs in the Boreham Library and Campus Center will remain open and available for students, faculty, and staff. Work stations will be spread 6 feet apart and disinfected after each use.

Are there low-cost options for internet access at my home?

Many area internet providers are offering discounted service plans to help during this time. Contact your local provider to see if you are eligible for any discounts or short-term offers.

Can I access the Health Clinic?

Yes, the UAFS Powell Student Health Clinic will still provide services, but students should first make an appointment by contacting the clinic at 479-788-7444 or studenthealth@UAFS.edu

The Health Clinic is also able to provide essential wellness services over the phone at 479-788-7444.

Can I access the Counseling Center?

Yes, the Counseling Center will provide services, but students should first call the Counseling Center to make an appointment for either remote or in-person counseling at 479-788-7398

Students will have the opportunity to access counseling services via TeleHealth. Students wishing to access this service should call our Counseling Center at 479-788-7398. The Counseling Center staff will provide the student with detailed instructions on how to access the Doxyme platform.

Is there any Emergency Assistance available to students?

Yes, the entire emergency assistance program can function remotely.

Contact Dr. Dave Stevens, dean of students, for more information at 479-788-7310 or dave.stevens@uafs.edu.

What can I do if I am struggling emotionally or have concerns about my finances?

The DHS mental health and addictions hotline is available at 844-763-0198

The United Way's 2-1-1 hotline will provide resources and referrals for a wide variety of financial assistance as well as access to physical and mental health services. 

Are there any additional resources to help me succeed or find help?

Yes. The university has created a resource guide to meet your needs, assist with your education, keep you on track to graduate and create programming that keeps you engaged and healthy.

https://campuslife.uafs.edu/services/health-center/covid19-resources

WATC & Concurrent Courses:

Does the UAFS campus closure apply to WATC and concurrent students?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced that all K-12 schools in Arkansas will be closed for face-to-face classes throughout the 2020 school year. 

WATC, regional workforce, and concurrent classes offered by UAFS will move to remote instruction as possible.

UAFS Faculty:

How should I prepare for online teaching?

  • Course shells have been created within Blackboard, our learning management system, for every applicable course at UAFS to faculty to teach their classes online and stay on track for the semester. 
  • During the March 16-20 spring break extension, work with Technology Services and faculty peers to develop your online content and strategize how you can bring the most important aspects of your course online. Through collaborative software, there are many more options to replicate in-class experiences online.
  • University staff members are available to support you in transferring content, optimizing content for web and remote operations.
  • Faculty and students may also utilize Blackboard Collaborate to conduct virtual “face-to-face” meetings and training.
  • The university and Blackboard have made numerous training modules available for faculty who would like more advanced training.
    • The Blackboard Learn Help page offers the latest information about releases, product updates, and building blocks.
    • The Blackboard Community page offers a place to exchange tips, information, and solutions with fellow Blackboard product users from across the globe.
       

Where can I get help to move my courses online?

  • Instructional Support is offering the following training sessions next week in Library 202:
    • Using Discussion Boards: Monday -- 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
    • Using Examity:  Monday -- 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. and Tuesday -- 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
    • Using Collaborate Training: Tuesday -- 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. 

How can I support my students as they adjust to online learning?

  • Attempt to engage with EAB Navigate alerts early and often to help students stay aware of potential issues and help advisors keep up with students who are struggling in realtime. 
  • Be compassionate with students who are learning remotely for the first time.
  • Ask students to let you know if they are struggling with the new format. Encourage open communication.
  • Ask students if they have technology needs.
  • The university has also extended a technology survey to assist in meeting those needs before classes resume on March 30.

      How do I advise students remotely?

      • Student appointments should be held via FERPA compliant services such as phone, Google Meetings, or Blackboard Collaborate.

      • If you have scheduled appointments, please reach out to the students to schedule the appointment remotely.
         

      What is the deadline for faculty contracts?

      • Contracts have been mailed out and are due back by May 1. 
      • Contracts can be returned to the Human Resources Department by mail or can be dropped off in a sealed envelope at the Mail Room in Plant Operations at 500 North 51st Street. The Mail Room will be open for drop-offs and pick-ups, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
         

      How will adjunct faculty be affected?

      • If you are currently teaching a UAFS class, your pay will not be affected by the changes that are being instituted as a result of COVID-19.
      • Your best source of information continues to be the department head over the discipline in which you are teaching. We are endeavoring to keep them informed, so they can keep you informed.
         

      Are COVID-19 screenings available?

      • The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will offer free screenings for all Arkansans who have questions about whether they may have the COVID-19 virus utilizing the HealthNow, its 24-hour digital connection to healthcare professionals. A screening tool with a series of questions will ask about symptoms, age, overall health, travel and other potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus and guide patients regarding the next steps if any. This may include a video session with a UAMS HealthNow provider, advice to contact local physicians for further evaluation and possible testing for the virus. 
      • The UAMS HealthNow platform will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to guide patients of all ages through a series of questions and next steps from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/.
         

      What should I do if I feel ill?

      • Anyone developing flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their physician. Do not come to work or class if you are ill.
      • The UAMS HealthNow platform will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to guide anyone who has concerns about having COVID-19 through a series of questions and next steps from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. That site is available at https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/.

       

      Have the University Health & Dental Plans made any changes in response to COVID-19?

      • Yes. In coordination with UMR and MedImpact the University Health Plan has taken the following steps. (Additional information about these steps is available on the UA System Benefits site.)

      • Testing services for COVID-19 are treated as other $0 preventative care services and available at no out-of-pocket expense to Plan members.

      • Existing pharmacy refill guidelines limiting refills to the point at which 80% of the medication should have been used have been waived for 30 days. This exception does not change prior authorization guidelines or dosing limits but should provide members with more flexibility.

      • Access to the United Telemedicine/Teladoc program which provides 24/7 access to a board-certified physician through has been expanded to all UAS campuses. Standard member copayments apply.

      • Benefits-eligible employees now have no-cost access to the United Health basic Member Assistance Program (MAP) regardless of their health plan enrollment.
      • Local provider INN Telephonic and Video-based office visit services are available. Standard member copayments for office visits will apply.
      • Local provider INN Dental Telephonic and Video-based office visit services are also available.

       

      What leave should I use if I need to stay home?

      • Until further notice, the University will continue to follow the leave use guidelines as provided in Board Policies 420.1, 420.2 and 420.3.  Specific to a common question, at this time, the authority under state law does not exist for paid administrative leave. 

      • In some cases, individuals may be quarantined by the AR Department of Health, their physician or other health care authority.  They may not be ill or experience symptoms of the illness but will be unavailable for work.  As practical for each role and as meets the needs of the individual campus, telework assignments (which would include regular job assignments, available campus on-line training, or similar types of arrangements) are encouraged in those situations.  If telework assignments are not possible, accrued leave (sick and vacation) and leave-without-pay will be used in the normal manner.   

      • The University will continue to monitor this situation closely and will follow the guidance of the Arkansas Department of Health with updates provided as available.   We encourage employees to seek and follow the guidance of their physician as they would with other health care concerns.

      What does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act mean for me?

      The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, effective on April 1, 2020, and applying to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

       

      What employees or categories of employees will qualify for the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML programs?

      With very few exceptions, all employees, full-time and part-time, will be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  Emergency sick leave will be available to eligible employees who are unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave for one or more of the applicable COVID-19-related reasons listed in the new law. (Refer to this Employee Rights poster as a quick reference.)

      Also with very few exceptions, all employees, full-time and part-time, who have been employed with the University for at least 30 days will be eligible for the Expanded FML program if their absence is due to one or more of the applicable stated reasons for leave.  Student-workers, temps, adjuncts, and extra help employees are included. 

      For employees who have already used existing standard FML, the new FML program does not add to the leave time available under the standard FMLA guidelines.  In other words, employees having used 12 weeks of standard FML (or some portion thereof) within the previous 12-month period, would not be eligible for expanded FML that, in combination with standard FML already used, exceeded 12 weeks total.

       

      Are employees still eligible for benefits and do they accrue leave when using the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML programs?

      Yes.  If the employee is otherwise benefits-eligible, existing benefits participation at the employee’s active premium rates continue.  Leave accrual continues at the regular or prorated rate based upon the employee’s percent of time employed. However, the new programs do not create a qualified status change event providing for enrollment changes or new enrollments into benefits participation.

                    

      May employees choose to use the 80 hours of EPSL time over more than a two-week period?  For example, could a full-time employee choose to take 50% of that leave over four weeks or use the leave intermittently?

      Yes, within the scope of the leave programs.  Use and schedule must comply with one or more of the six reasons for use of the leave programs.  An employee cannot choose to be paid for a time period he/she would not have otherwise been on the payroll. (Example, 9-month faculty member during the summer break.)

      What is the CARES Act and what does it mean to me?

      The CARES Act is the federal Coronavirus Aid Recovery and Economic Security Act, passed by Congress and signed by the President in March 2020. Among the Act’s many provisions, it allows eligible participants of retirement plans such as the University 403(b)/457(b) Retirement Plan to take larger loans and distributions, including in-service distributions, from their accounts than federal law allows otherwise.

      Click here to visit the UA System Benefits site to learn more.

      How are pro-rated hours calculated for part-time employees?

      Hours are pro-rated based on the percent of time employed, or on an average of hours worked for those employees with variable work schedules as outlined below:

      • For part-time benefits-eligible employees, leave will be based on the employee’s percent of time employed, the same as sick leave and holiday leave, 75%, 62% or 50%.

      • For other part-time employees, leave will be based on the number of hours normally scheduled every two weeks or, for employees who work a variable schedule, on the average hours worked over a six-month period.

      • For part-time employees who have been employed for less than six months, leave will be based on the average hours worked for the period employed.

       

      Must employees use their other accrued leave before using Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FML?

      No.  Employees may retain their regular accrued leave for future use.  

       

      Is documentation required for quarantine or care for another individual or child? If, yes, what documentation?

      To receive Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FML, documentation may be required. Documentation can include a treating physician’s note, Health Department directives, public notices, and similar records.

       

      More specifically, an employee will need a health care provider statement for the following:

      • If the employee or a family member living in their household has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
      • If they are caring for an individual subject to a local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

       

      If an employee is caring for his/her child whose public Arkansas or Oklahoma school has been closed due to COVID-19 related reasons, they will not need to provide documentation as long as the closing has been made public, and public notices are readily available.

       

      If an employee is caring for his/her child whose place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons, they will need to provide documentation.

       

      • Documentation can be a notice from the daycare, an e-mail, a screenshot of text message, etc. If you have questions or problems getting documentation, contact HR for assistance.

       

      If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, they will not need to provide a doctor’s statement.

       

      Can employees use BOTH Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML?

      Yes, if the situation qualifies for the use of both. However, the two combined may not exceed 12 weeks in total.

       

      May employees using EPSL or Expanded FML use their accrued leave time to supplement their pay?

      Yes.  Employees may choose to use or retain accrued leave.  Any use of accrued leave, when combined with Expanded FML payments, must not exceed 100% of the employee’s regular salary.

       

      Can the new federal leave programs be retroactively applied to restore accrued leave?

      No. There is no retroactive application available within the law.

       

      Who can I contact with more questions about benefits, for Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FML?

      Our HR team is on standby and ready to provide assistance. However, they are also working remotely during this time. If you need assistance or have questions, contact HR by email at hrdept@uafs.edu.

      To apply, complete an FFCRA Request Form (available on My.UAFS on the HR Home page) and submit to HR with any required documentation.

      Submit by email to hrdept@uafs.edu, with a copy to your supervisor(s).

      Requests should be made in advance, or as soon as possible, to ensure timely payment of wages.

      My children's school has closed unexpectedly, what should I do?

      • Faculty members who are faced with childcare concerns as a result of their children being out of school should contact their department heads and direct supervisors. Your supervisors will ensure that you can work remotely through April 17 to provide care for your children.

      What does the Governor's Public Health Emergency mean for me?

      Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson finalized two polices Friday:

      What does Governor’s Executive Order 20-06 mean for UAFS?

      Pursuant to Executive Order 20-06, to the extent any of the following “in any way prevents, hinders, or delays the agency’s [institution’s] ability to render maximum assistance to the citizens of this state while they are adhering to guidelines to prohibit the spread of disease or seeking assistance from the state to obtain benefits or services related to health, education, employment, or any service required by the state in response to or to mitigate the spread of COVID-109”, the University of Arkansas System of which UAFS is a part has suspended the following statutes, and associated rules, as applicable, from March 17, 2020 through April 15, 2020:

      1. Certain Procurement Matters – 19-11-229(competitive sealed bidding), 230 (competitive sealed proposals), 249 (cooperative purchasing), 265 (submission of contracts required), 267 (development and use of performance-based contracts), 271 (compliance reporting) and 274 (reporting required)
      2. Higher Education Classification and Compensation – 21-5-1403 (regular salary procedures and restrictions), 1411 (shift differential), 1412 (compensation differential), 1413 (salary administration grids) and 1414 (extra help positions)
      3. Certain Provisions related to Licensure of Healthcare Professionals – 17-87-101 et seq., 17-95-101 et seq. and 17-91-102 (nurses, physicians and osteopathic physicians)
      4. Higher Education Expenditure Restrictions – 6-63-305 (new or additional positions), 306 (additional compensation for additional duties), 308 (overtime for classified positions) and 314 (extra help restrictions)
      5. Salaries and Payroll Disbursement – 19-4-1604 (salary from two agencies), 1607 (monthly, bi-weekly, weekly and hourly salaries), 1608 (personal services less than 12 months), 1610 (retroactive pay prohibited) and 1612 (overtime pay)
      6. Attendance and Leave – 21-4-204/205 (annual leave), 207 (sick leave), 210 (leave without pay) and 6-63-602 (catastrophic leave)
      7. Prohibited Contracts and Investments – 25-1-503
      8. Commissioner of State Lands Inventory Requirement – 22-5-210
      9. Certain Provisions of FOIA (regarding the time for records to be produced) – 25-19-105
      10. Review of Economic Feasibility of Bonds/Loans – 6-61-202(a)(7)
      11. Telemedicine Act – 17-80-401et seq.
      12. Hospital Pharmacies Act – 17-92-601 et seq.
      13. Hospital Reporting Requirements (regarding the time for reporting to state medical board) – 17-95-104(a)(1)
      14. Graduate Registered Physician Act – 17-95-901 et seq.
      15. Duties of Disbursing Officer – 19-4-1206(b)(3)(B)

      Relevant rules associated with the above identified statutes
      ASBM Regulation 2.8 – establishment of patient-physician relationship
      ASBM Regulation 37 – residents
      ASBM Regulation 38 – telemedicine

      What does the Governor’s Executive Order mean for Accounts Payable and Procurement?

      Accounts Payable

      19-4-706. Interest and carrying charges

      • State agencies, including exempt agencies, may enter into contracts that contemplate the payment of interest, late charges, but only when such late charges are incurred sixty (60) days after payment is due, or carrying charges under such rules as may be promulgated by the State Procurement Director.
      • If we have a complete shutdown of the campus, there could be invoices that would exceed the 60 days if essential employees are not allowed to access the campus to process payments. 

      Procurement

      19-11-229. Competitive sealed bidding

      • This statute requires soliciting bids for procurements $75,000+, posting them electronically, and only accepting sealed hard copies of responses at a designated date and time. This entire process could delay or hinder necessary procurements. Exemption would allow us to treat procurements of $75,000+ as competitive bids (three quotes). 

      19-11-234. Competitive Bidding

      • This statute requires soliciting three bids for procurements of $20,000+ and less than or equal to $65,000, by receiving quotes via direct mail, telephone, telegraph, written form or electronic media. Exemption of the requirement for three competitive bids would allow us to complete procurement sin this dollar range more quickly and efficiently.

       

      Are there any restrictions on university travel?

      • Yes. All university-related travel is suspended for the next 60 days effective immediately. This includes athletic and academic competitions, conferences, presentations, gatherings, and events. 

      What if I’ve already booked a university-related trip?

      • Many large-scale events have already canceled. Please work with the sponsoring organization to request a refund. 
      • If your travel has already been paid for but will occur within the 60-day suspension period, please contact the university business office for guidance. 

       

       

      UAFS Staff:

      Will staff work remotely going forward?

      Yes. Staff will work remotely as they are able through May 30. Supervisors will continue to stay in close contact with employees to provide guidance and work assignments.

      How will hourly employees be paid for remote work?

      • If you are working remotely, supervisors will need to enter your time worked in Timeforce.
      • Essential employees who are permitted to work on campus should continue to clock in and out.
      • If you are using leave (sick or annual), you will enter that time in Timeforce as usual.
      • Employees could have a combination of all three on their timesheet.

       

      Do I need to keep an exact log of my time?

      • This is being left to the discretion of each supervisor.
      • Please contact your supervisor to discuss the expectations for your team.
      • Supervisors: You will need to make a note on the first entry, only indicating the employee is working remotely.

       

      Can part-time staff work remotely?

      Yes. Follow the same procedures as full-time hourly staff.

       

      Will I still sign off on my timesheet?

      Yes. Employees and supervisors will still be required to certify timesheets. This can be done remotely from any device with internet access.

      The next timesheet approval will need to be done by March 30.

       

      What if I lost my Timeforce password?

      Contact Ashley or Effie by e-mail at Ashley.sosniecki@uafs.edu or Effie.lynn@uafs.edu.
       

      Who do I contact if I have other HR questions?

      Since HR staff may also be working remotely during this time, please contact Staci Zimmer at staci.zimmer@uafs.edu.

       

      I am an advisor. Will I advise remotely?

      • Student appointments should not be held face-to-face over the next two weeks.
      • If you have scheduled appointments, please reach out to the students to schedule by phone or through Blackboard Collaborate.

      Are COVID-19 screenings available?

      • The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will offer free screenings for all Arkansans who have questions about whether they may have the COVID-19 virus utilizing the HealthNow, its 24-hour digital connection to healthcare professionals. A screening tool with a series of questions will ask about symptoms, age, overall health, travel, and other potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus and guide patients regarding the next steps, if any. This may include a video session with a UAMS HealthNow provider, advice to contact local physicians for further evaluation and possible testing for the virus. 
      • The UAMS HealthNow platform will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to guide patients of all ages through a series of questions and next steps from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/.

      Have the University Health & Dental Plans made any changes in response to COVID-19?

      • Yes. In coordination with UMR and MedImpact, the University Health Plan has taken the following steps. (Additional information about these steps is available on the UA System Benefits site.)
      • Testing services for COVID-19 are treated as other $0 preventative care services and available at no out-of-pocket expense to Plan members.
      • Existing pharmacy refill guidelines limiting refills to the point at which 80% of the medication should have been used have been waived for 30 days. This exception does not change prior authorization guidelines or dosing limits but should provide members with more flexibility.
      • Access to the United Telemedicine/Teladoc program, which provides 24/7 access to a board-certified physician through has been expanded to all UAS campuses. Standard member copayments apply.
      • Benefits-eligible employees now have no-cost access to the United Health basic Member Assistance Program (MAP) regardless of their health plan enrollment.
      • Local provider INN Telephonic and Video-based office visit services are available. Standard member copayments for office visits will apply.
      • Local provider INN Dental Telephonic and Video-based office visit services are also available.

      What should I do if I feel ill?

      • Anyone developing flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their physician.
      • The UAMS HealthNow platform will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to guide anyone who has concerns about having COVID-19 through a series of questions and next steps from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer. That site is available at https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/.

       

      Have the University Health & Dental Plans made any changes in response to COVID-19?

      • Yes. In coordination with UMR and MedImpact, the University Health Plan has taken the following steps. (Additional information about these steps is available on the UA System Benefits site.)

      • Testing services for COVID-19 are treated as other $0 preventative care services and available at no out-of-pocket expense to Plan members.

      • Existing pharmacy refill guidelines limiting refills to the point at which 80% of the medication should have been used have been waived for 30 days. This exception does not change prior authorization guidelines or dosing limits but should provide members with more flexibility.

      • Access to the United Telemedicine/Teladoc program, which provides 24/7 access to a board-certified physician through has been expanded to all UAS campuses. Standard member copayments apply.

      • Benefits-eligible employees now have no-cost access to the United Health basic Member Assistance Program (MAP) regardless of their health plan enrollment.
      • Local provider INN Telephonic and Video-based office visit services are available. Standard member copayments for office visits will apply.
      • Local provider INN Dental Telephonic and Video-based office visit services are also available.

       

      What leave should I use if I need to stay home?

      • Until further notice, the university will continue to follow the leave use guidelines as provided in Board Policies 420.1, 420.2, and 420.3.  Specific to a common question, at this time, the authority under state law does not exist for paid administrative leave. 

      • In some cases, individuals may be quarantined by the AR Department of Health, their physician, or other health care authority.  They may not be ill or experience symptoms of the illness but will be unavailable for work.  As practical for each role and as meets the needs of the individual campus, telework assignments (which would include regular job assignments, available campus on-line training, or similar types of arrangements) are encouraged in those situations.  If telework assignments are not possible, accrued leave (sick and vacation) and leave-without-pay will be used in the normal manner.   

      • The university will continue to monitor this situation closely and will follow the guidance of the Arkansas Department of Health with updates provided as available.   We encourage employees to seek and follow the guidance of their physician as they would with other health care concerns.

      What does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act mean for me?

      The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, effective on April 1, 2020, and applying to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

       

      What employees or categories of employees will qualify for the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML programs?

      With very few exceptions, all employees, full-time and part-time, will be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  Emergency sick leave will be available to eligible employees who are unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave for one or more of the applicable COVID-19-related reasons listed in the new law. (Refer to this Employee Rights poster as a quick reference.)

      Also, with very few exceptions, all employees, full-time and part-time, who have been employed with the university for at least 30 days will be eligible for the Expanded FML program if their absence is due to one or more of the application stated reasons for leave.  Student-workers, temps, adjuncts, and extra help employees are included. 

      For employees who have already used existing standard FML, the new FML program does not add to the leave time available under the standard FMLA guidelines.  In other words, employees who have used 12 weeks of standard FML (or some portion thereof) within the previous 12-month period, would not be eligible for expanded FML that, in combination with standard FML already used, exceeded 12 weeks total.

       

      Are employees still eligible for benefits, and do they accrue leave when using the new Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML programs?

      Yes.  If the employee is otherwise benefits-eligible, existing benefits participation at the employee's active premium rates continue.  Leave accrual continues at the regular or pro-rated rate based upon the employee's percent of time employed. However, the new programs do not create a qualified status change event providing for enrollment changes or new enrollments into benefits participation.

                    

      May employees choose to use the 80 hours of EPSL time over more than two weeks?  For example, could a full-time employee choose to take 50% of that leave over four weeks or use the leave intermittently?

      Yes, within the scope of the leave programs.  Use and schedule must comply with one or more of the six reasons for the use of the leave programs.  An employee cannot choose to be paid for a time period he/she would not have otherwise been on the payroll. (Example, 9-month faculty member during the summer break.)

       

      How are pro-rated hours calculated for part-time employees?

      Hours are pro-rated based on the percent of time employed, or on an average of hours worked for those employees with variable work schedules as outlined below:

      • For part-time benefits-eligible employees, leave will be based on the employee's percent of time employed, the same as sick leave and holiday leave, 75%, 62%, or 50%.

      • For other part-time employees, leave will be based on the number of hours usually scheduled every two weeks or, for employees who work a variable schedule, on the average hours worked over six months.

      • For part-time employees who have been employed for less than six months, leave will be based on the average hours worked for the period employed.

       

      Must employees use their other accrued leave before using Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FML?

      No.  Employees may retain their regular accrued leave for future use.  

       

      Is documentation required for quarantine or care for another individual or child? If yes, what documentation?

      To receive Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FML, documentation may be required. Documentation can include a treating physician's note, Health Department directives, public notices, and similar records.

       

      More specifically, an employee will need a health care provider statement for the following:

      • If the employee or a family member living in their household has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
      • If they are caring for an individual subject to a local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

       

      If an employee is caring for his/her child whose public Arkansas or Oklahoma school has been closed due to COVID-19 related reasons, they will not need to provide documentation as long as the closing has been made public, and public notices are readily available.

       

      If an employee is caring for his/her child whose place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons, they will need to provide documentation.

       

      • Documentation can be a notice from the daycare, an e-mail, a screenshot of text message, etc. If you have questions or problems getting documentation, contact HR for assistance.

       

      If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis, they will not need to provide a doctor's statement.

       

      Can employees use BOTH Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML?

      Yes, if the situation qualifies for the use of both. However, the two combined may not exceed 12 weeks in total.

       

      May employees using EPSL or Expanded FML use their accrued leave time to supplement their pay?

      Yes.  Employees may choose to use or retain accrued leave.  Any use of accrued leave, when combined with Expanded FML payments, must not exceed 100% of the employee's regular salary.

       

      Can the new federal leave programs be retroactively applied to restore accrued leave?

      No. There is no retroactive application available within the law.

       

      Who can I contact with more questions about benefits for Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FML?

      Our HR team is on standby and ready to assist. However, they are also working remotely during this time. If you need assistance or have questions, contact HR by e-mail at hrdept@uafs.edu.

      To apply, complete an FFCRA Request Form (available on My.UAFS on the HR Home page) and submit to HR with any required documentation.

      Submit by e-mail to hrdept@uafs.edu, with a copy to your supervisor(s).

      Requests should be made in advance, or as soon as possible, to ensure timely payment of wages.

      My children's school has closed unexpectedly, what should I do?

      Staff members who are faced with childcare concerns as a result of their children being out of school should contact their department heads and direct supervisors. Your supervisors will ensure that you can work remotely through April 17 to provide care for your children.
       

      What does the Governor's Public Health Emergency mean for me?

      Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson finalized two polices Friday:

      What does Governor's Executive Order 20-06 mean for UAFS?

      Pursuant to Executive Order 20-06, to the extent any of the following "in any way prevents, hinders, or delays the agency's [institution's] ability to render maximum assistance to the citizens of this state while they are adhering to guidelines to prohibit the spread of disease or seeking assistance from the state to obtain benefits or services related to health, education, employment, or any service required by the state in response to or to mitigate the spread of COVID-109", the University of Arkansas System of which UAFS is a part has suspended the following statutes, and associated rules, as applicable, from March 17, 2020, through April 15, 2020:

      1. Certain Procurement Matters – 19-11-229(competitive sealed bidding), 230 (competitive sealed proposals), 249 (cooperative purchasing), 265 (submission of contracts required), 267 (development and use of performance-based contracts), 271 (compliance reporting) and 274 (reporting required)
      2. Higher Education Classification and Compensation – 21-5-1403 (regular salary procedures and restrictions), 1411 (shift differential), 1412 (compensation differential), 1413 (salary administration grids) and 1414 (extra help positions)
      3. Certain Provisions related to Licensure of Healthcare Professionals – 17-87-101 et seq., 17-95-101 et seq. and 17-91-102 (nurses, physicians, and osteopathic physicians)
      4. Higher Education Expenditure Restrictions – 6-63-305 (new or additional positions), 306 (additional compensation for additional duties), 308 (overtime for classified positions) and 314 (extra help restrictions)
      5. Salaries and Payroll Disbursement – 19-4-1604 (salary from two agencies), 1607 (monthly, bi-weekly, weekly and hourly salaries), 1608 (personal services less than 12 months), 1610 (retroactive pay prohibited) and 1612 (overtime pay)
      6. Attendance and Leave – 21-4-204/205 (annual leave), 207 (sick leave), 210 (leave without pay) and 6-63-602 (catastrophic leave)
      7. Prohibited Contracts and Investments – 25-1-503
      8. Commissioner of State Lands Inventory Requirement – 22-5-210
      9. Certain Provisions of FOIA (regarding the time for records to be produced) – 25-19-105
      10. Review of Economic Feasibility of Bonds/Loans – 6-61-202(a)(7)
      11. Telemedicine Act – 17-80-401et seq.
      12. Hospital Pharmacies Act – 17-92-601 et seq.
      13. Hospital Reporting Requirements (regarding the time for reporting to state medical board) – 17-95-104(a)(1)
      14. Graduate Registered Physician Act – 17-95-901 et seq.
      15. Duties of Disbursing Officer – 19-4-1206(b)(3)(B)

      Relevant rules associated with the above-identified statutes
      ASBM Regulation 2.8 – establishment of patient-physician relationship
      ASBM Regulation 37 – residents
      ASBM Regulation 38 – telemedicine

       

      What does the Governor's Executive Order mean for Accounts Payable and Procurement?

      Accounts Payable

      19-4-706. Interest and carrying charges

      • State agencies, including exempt agencies, may enter into contracts that contemplate the payment of interest, late charges, but only when such late charges are incurred sixty (60) days after payment is due, or carrying charges under such rules as may be promulgated by the State Procurement Director.
      • If we have a complete shutdown of the campus, there could be invoices that would exceed the 60 days if essential employees are not allowed to access the campus to process payments. 

      Procurement

      19-11-229. Competitive sealed bidding

      • This statute requires soliciting bids for procurements $75,000+, posting them electronically, and only accepting sealed hard copies of responses at a designated date and time. This entire process could delay or hinder necessary procurements. Exemption would allow us to treat procurements of $75,000+ as competitive bids (three quotes). 

      19-11-234. Competitive Bidding

      • This statute requires soliciting three bids for procurements of $20,000+ and less than or equal to $65,000 by receiving quotes via direct mail, telephone, telegraph, written form, or electronic media. Exemption of the requirement for three competitive bids would allow us to complete procurement sin this dollar range more quickly and efficiently.

       

      Are there any restrictions on university travel?

      • Yes. All university-related travel is suspended for the next 60 days effective immediately. This includes athletic and academic competitions, conferences, presentations, gatherings, and events. 

      What if I've already booked a university-related trip?

      • Many large-scale events have already canceled. Please work with the sponsoring organization to request a refund. 
      • If your travel has already been paid for but will occur within the 60-day suspension period, please contact the university business office for guidance. 

       

       

      Community:

      Are university events canceled?

      • Yes. All university-sponsored events have been canceled for the semester effective immediately.
      • University events, and community events scheduled to be held on the university campus, may be postponed, but will not be held during the spring semester.
         

      Will Summer camps and conferences be canceled?

      The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees voted to cancel all summer camps and conferences, both academic and athletic, which were scheduled for face-to-face delivery for summer 2020.

      Some of our departments have already begun to create content for online camps and conferences.

       

      Will Season of Entertainment be canceled?

      All previously announced shows for the 2020 Season of Entertainment have been canceled or postponed.

      • The Fort Smith Convention Center has announced it will close its doors until April 30, so no events at that location will continue. 
      • Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story has been postponed to Monday, November 9, 2020. Previously purchased tickets can be used at that time or reissued if necessary. 
      • UAFS Music performances have been suspended, but may be moved to a later date or moved to a virtual performance. 

      Will tickets be refunded?

      Can I still schedule a campus tour?

      • Campus tours will not be scheduled until at least April 17.

       

      Will the university facilitate Accuplacer tests for high school students?

      UAFS will not offer Accuplacer or other placement tests until at least April 17.