LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The Arkansas Department of Health has authorized Fay W. Boozman College of Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and UAMS Northwest Regional Campus to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing for public and private colleges and universities in Arkansas.
The project is in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Arkansas Department of Health.
“Our goal is to protect the students and employees on each of these campuses,” said Jay Gandy, Ph.D., associate provost and project lead for the UAMS Northwest Regional Campus. “This group effort will allow us to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic among the higher education institutions in Arkansas.”
The project is funded by $5 million in federal coronavirus aid allocated by the Arkansas Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Steering Committee created by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The effort will involve establishing a contact tracing center in central Arkansas and northwest Arkansas including 75 contact tracers, two center directors and an assistant center director.
“As colleges begin going back to school in August, we want to change the norms and behaviors of these students,” said Ben Amick, Ph.D., associate dean for research and project lead for the College of Public Health. “That will be the only way to ensure that students are following social distancing practices, wearing masks, and taking other COVID-19 precautions.”
The college has developed a website for resources, materials and best practices. Also, UAMS, Arkansas Department of Health, and Arkansas Department of Higher Education officials are working closely with each institution to ensure their preparedness plans are in place and proper precautions are taken if a student or employee tests positive for COVID-19.