Letter from the Provost: August 21, 2020

Dear U of A Parents and Families:

We are excited about the first day of classes Monday and can’t wait to get started. With that in mind, I’d like to share a few updates about our preparations.

Late yesterday, the university launched a COVID-19 reporting dashboard to help you track on-campus testing results and any positive cases reported in our campus community. The dashboard will be updated weekly on Mondays, so data from this week will be available on the first day of classes.

As Chancellor Steinmetz said in his message Thursday, the suspension of in-person classes at other universities is a powerful reminder of the importance of following the safety precautions we have in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Our Returning to Campus plan provides a detailed overview of all the efforts we have in place to continue our mission of learning while working to keep our campus community safe this fall, but the behavior of our faculty, staff and students will determine how the semester goes. We have to be relentless in following the plan – including social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowds – on and off-campus if we hope to avoid a disruption in our plans for the fall semester.

As I said previously, you must help us reinforce our guidelines with students. This will be a team effort that requires all members of our campus community working together.

Students recently received information about the student health kits the university is providing, how to find available spaces on-campus for studying or accessing remote courses, and details regarding self-reporting positive results of COVID-19 testing conducted off-campus via an online self-reporting form.

I'd also like to share a video we've made that discusses our remote teaching efforts and includes the perspectives of our faculty and students.  The video also gives you a glimpse of what our remote classes will look like this fall. We also recently finalized a partnership with Zoom, which will allow for even stronger engagement between students and their professors. 

As I’ve said before, remote learning is a powerful format that offers meaningful learning opportunities for our students as a temporary substitute for in-person courses – and in many cases, can actually increase engagement through virtual chat options.

Whether your student is attending in-person, in a hybrid format, remotely or online, I look forward to working together to make sure our students stay healthy and receive the best education possible this semester.


Charles F. Robinson

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

Professor of History