FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The University of Arkansas saw a rollercoaster of COVID-19 cases during the fall semester, and while it is still up in the air what the spring semester will look like regarding the spread of the virus, there will be more opportunities to learn in-person.
“University administrators have been asking faculty to teach in person and the goal, it seems, is to have 50 percent of all classes being taught in person,” said Bret Schulte, associate professor at the university.
In October, the U of A published a press release encouraging students to take more in-person and hybrid classes. It also said faculty was being encouraged to teach more classes face-to-face and there would be more options for this type of learning.
“We really thought hard on how we could conduct in person classes on campus safely and we feel like we’ve done that with what we have in place,” said John Thomas, manager of university communications.
Thomas said at the start of the fall semester 41% of classes were taught face-to face and as of this semester, it has gone up to 43%. However, this increase is still under their initial goal of 50% in-person classes.
Schulte said some were even given incentives for in-person learning, like those in U of A’s English Department.
Those graduate students were offered an additional $4,000 per class to teach face-to-face,” he said.
This refers to the entire class they teach for a semester, not each specific class period they teach in person.
For freshman, Mekenna Earnhart, this was the first time she was offered an in-person class. Last semester, she was only able to take them online.
“I still felt safe but felt like I was at college for a change,” she said. “At least every one of my friends has one in-person class.”
Thomas said every protocol possible is in place to avoid the spread of the virus, like dividing classes into smaller groups, requiring masks at all times and frequent cleaning.
“We feel like campus is a safe environment because the numbers have been relatively low for those that have been on campus.”
To see the univerisity’s COVID-19 dashboard that is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, click here.