Pandemic

Pandemics occur when a novel virus emerges that infects and can be efficiently transmitted between humans. Animals are the most likely reservoir for these emerging viruses.

Given the ease in which seasonal viruses spread among the population, it is assumed that the academic environment of campus classrooms cannot be maintained in the face of a pandemic virus without putting students, staff, and others at risk of infection. In addition, the university may be directed by local, state or federal authorities to close the campus regardless of the institutions interest in doing otherwise.

Any decision to close the university will be made by the chancellor with input from the Emergency Response Team, the members of which will be appointed in advance by the chancellor. They will meet after the first verified case is discovered in North America and their recommendations will be based upon a combination of the following decision criteria/factors.

  • World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of Phase 6-Pandemic period: Increased and sustained transmission in the general U.S. population.
  • Confirmation of a high rate of infectivity, morbidity (rate of infection) and/or mortality (death rate)
  • Rate/speed of disease spreading
  • Local public plan recommendations to curtail/cancel public activities in county or state
  • Falling class attendance, students leaving campus
  • Rising employee absenteeism
  • Other regional schools/school systems closing
  • Transportation systems closing/curtailing interstate travel
  • Cases in the Mid-South area occurring early versus late in the overall U.S. experience with the unfolding pandemic.

During the period when classes are suspended, most academic, administrative and support operations will be closed. Minimal utilities will be supplied to all buildings, but all routine, normal daily housekeeping and maintenance activities will cease until campus buildings are reopened. Buildings will be closed to all but approved essential staff. Most research activities that depend on campus facilities will need to be suspended as well. Police, safety and facilities staff, and a small number of other essential employees will be needed to maintain, safe, secure, and hazard-free buildings.

Areas of Institutional Response

Communications- Communication will be maintained by use of the web, e-mail, telephone, the media and the campus high-speed emergency alert system when appropriate. All non-emergency university releases of information will be funneled through the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Academic Programs- Continuity of institution and research will be coordinated by the Office of the Provost.

  • If campus closure is less than two weeks, it will be assumed that semester classes can be completed. If the closure is longer than two weeks, the semester could need to be extended. If the closure is within four weeks of the end of the semester, consideration will be given to accepting the grades at the point of closure. Alternate forms of instruction will be pursued where feasible.
  • The university has an established policy on tuition, room, board and fees. Any modifications to the policy would be based on decisions regarding length of closure, cancellation of classes/services, and granting of academic credit. Policy modifications would require Board approval.
  • During the closure period, access to the campus will be severely restricted for safety reasons and absence of fully operational support systems. Most research activities that depend on campus facilities will be temporarily suspended, with exceptions made for those having unique difficulty in closing. Examples might include labs where live animals are housed.

Health and Safety– University Health Services, in conjunction with County and State health authorities, is responsible for coordinating all health care during a disease outbreak. Counseling Services, in conjunction with State mental health authorities will institute crisis intervention procedures for campus victims of emotional trauma or post traumatic stress. The University Safety Officer is responsible for coordinating acquisition and directions for use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Student Life- Student housing will be maintained as long as classes are in session. Once classes are canceled, steps will be taken to close all university-owned housing. Temporary emergency shelter will be provided for a limited number of students who have difficulty leaving the campus (e.g. international students). As long as residence halls are open, food service functions will be maintained, although modified.

Administrative Services- Financial Services will ensure the continuity of processing and issuing employee pay, paying bills, and ensuring funds can be procured for any necessary outside vendors. Facilities and Services will oversee facilities management issues, mail service, public safety issues and policy and procedure questions related to staff functions.

Pandemic Phases

Pre-Level 1
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Recovery

Pre-Level 1

Prior to efficient human-to-human transmission.

Institution Wide:

  • The Emergency Response Team will meet regularly to discuss preparations for each level and to confirm the designation of responsibility for specific types of communications.
  • Educational campaigns on hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette will be increased.

Department Specific:

  • Health Services will review protocol and procedures for distribution of available vaccine, prevention and isolation criteria.
  • Health Services will provide health promotion activities that stress infection control measures.
  • All units will identify essential staff to maintain necessary operations during levels 1-4, and inform individual staff of their status in writing. This should be done as soon as practical.
  • All units will confirm communication protocols for all staff levels (e-mails, meetings, conference calls, etc)
  • Student Housing and Campus Life will prepare drafts of e-mails, web postings and fliers to be used in (1) educational campaigns about hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette, and (2) personal protection campaign (e.g. what items students should have/store in their rooms and personal safety precautions). In addition, all residents will be advised that all university housing will be shut down shortly after classes are canceled and all residents will be expected to evacuate the campus.
  • Department of Human Resources will disseminate information about applicable leave policies.
  • The Environmental Health and Safety Office (EHS) will manage the distribution of information and consult on regulatory issues regarding the use of Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Computing Services will be responsible for maintaining the essential services and systems to support campus communication and instruction.

Level One

First cases of efficient human-to-human transmission internationally; Campus open, business as usual, enhanced planning.

Institution wide:

  • Information posted on the university website updated as needed to communicate the current status of the pandemic and institutional responses. Additional efforts to market the website will be implemented.
  • Email alerts will be sent to students, faculty, staff, and parents/family of students informing them of the current status and encouraging them to refer to the website.

Department Specific:

  • All units will coordinate updated information through the Office of Communications and Marketing as conditions evolve over time.
  • All units will provide information to staff about departmental issues and the care and safety of their families.
  • Health Services will provide health promotion activities that stress infection control measures.
  • The Safety Officer will educate students, faculty and staff on the need to keep a three day supply of water, food and other essentials.
  • Student Housing and Campus Life will conduct informational meetings with student residents and other stakeholders as needed.
  • EHS will manage the distribution of information and consult on regulatory issues regarding the use of Personal Protective Equipment.

Level Two

First verified case in North America and one or more of the triggering events listed below. Implement social distancing measures; cancel classes and other scheduled activities, prepare for closing; begin liberal leave for non-essential employees, healthy essential employees report to work.

  • World Health Organization declaration of Phase 6 Pandemic period; Increased and sustained transmission in the general U.S. population
  • Confirmation of a high rate of infectivity, morbidity, and/or mortality
  • Local public health recommendations to curtail/cancel public activities in county or state
  • Failing class attendance, students leaving campus
  • Rising employee absenteeism
  • Other regional schools/school systems closing
  • Transportation systems closing/curtailing interstate travel
  • Cases in the Mid-South area occurring early versus late in the overall U.S. experience with the unfolding pandemic

Institution Wide:

  • Information on the university website will be updated as needed to educate the campus community regarding flu signs/symptoms and when/where to seek help. Opportunities for responsive online communication will be provided by the Office of Communications and Marketing.
  • Email alerts will be sent to students, staff, parents/families, state officials and vendors apprising them of the status of activities on campus and steps being taken by the university.
  • Media will be alerted to the status of activities on campus and steps being taken by the institution.

Department Specific:

  • All units will keep their areas informed of the current status of the pandemic and institutional responses.
  • All units will update websites for closing status.
  • All units will maintain staff phone trees.
  • All units will publicize Health Services protocols for hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • All units will implement a procedure for dealing with a possible increased media presence, including access issues and referrals to the Office of Communications and Marketing.
  • Health Services will educate the campus community regarding signs/symptoms and when/where to seek help
  • Health Services personnel will conduct frequent consultation with the County and State Health Departments
  • Student Housing will announce that all university housing will be closed imminently and students will need to prepare to evacuate.
  • Student Housing and Campus Life will communicate Health Services protocols for infection control in areas such as residence halls where social isolation is difficult
  • International Students will be contacted so preparations can be made to return home if necessary.
  • Students and faculty studying abroad will be given instructions and emergency contact numbers.
  • Signs will be posted in the Donaghey Student Center stating anticipated closing of dining services.
  • EHS will manage the distribution of information and consult on regulatory issues regarding the use of Personal Protective Equipment and protocols for cleaning and disinfecting environmental surfaces.

Level Three

Within 1-5 days of declaring level 2 and depending on national and local conditions, all university residences will close; thereafter, as soon as practicable, most administrative offices and academic buildings will close.
Institution Wide:

  • All the processes listed in Level Two.
  • Appropriate telephone contact will be made with other stakeholders
  • Media will be updated on the evolving status of activities on campus and steps being taken by the institution.

Department Specific:

  • Health Services will maintain contact with County and State Health Departments
  • Public Safety will maintain adequate staff to ensure physical security of buildings and remaining students, staff and faculty.
  • Facilities Management will prepare to close buildings and set minimum/maximum environmental control limits. Adequate staff will be scheduled to maintain critical Facilities Management units.
  • International Students will receive assistance with temporary housing if needed.
  • Students, staff studying abroad will be kept informed by e-mail of the progress of the pandemic on the campus.

Level Four

Campus is closed, evacuated, all facilities closed except UA Little Rock Police Department, essential staff at Facilities Management, temporary emergency shelter for students with extreme hardship, essential research. Access to campus is restricted until further notice.

Institution Wide:

  • All the processes listed in levels two and three.

Department Specific:

  • All the processes listed in Level Three

Recovery

Once the pandemic is under control, the campus will be ready to prepare to reopen.

Institution Wide:

  • Re-opening procedures and timetable will be communicated by email, university website and news releases to the media.
  • Student return policy and procedures will be announced by email and the university website. The information will include health and safety precautions, what to expect, what to bring, and any credits for unused portions of services.