MENA, Ark.] Like many colleges across the nation, UA Rich Mountain made the difficult decision to transition to online or remote instruction courses in mid-March. The UA System kept all of its campuses online for both summer sessions. Chancellor Phillip Wilson announced last week they plan to be ready to resume in-person classes in August following a virtual meeting of the UA System Board of Trustees.
“College leadership has met continuously since the crisis began, developing plans and protocols that created the safest possible environment for our employees and students. Of course, we will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 to ensure reopening plans are aligned with state and federal health directives as well as develop measures to protect campus constituencies from the spread of the virus,” stated Wilson.
Wilson also reported that construction is on schedule in-spite of the heavy rainfall. Work also continues at McMillan & Tapley Parks for collegiate soccer, baseball, and softball fields.
He said that the college is seeing a trend of high school graduates who had planned to attend 4-year universities choosing to stay in Mena and take advantage of having a college in their metaphorical “backyard”. He attributed the new on-campus housing, launch of an athletic program, the Arkansas Transfer Achievement Scholarship to Fayetteville, and sadly, the virus, to all be factors.
UA Rich Mountain will also disburse approximately $255,000 in emergency grants under the CARES Act. These are federal funds that were funneled through institutions of higher education to help students meet needs that have arisen from the disruption of campus operations due to the virus. Students taking credit classroom courses are eligible to receive these funds. The amount is determined by the number of credit hours the student was enrolled in and the students do not have to initiate
An alternate grading scale was also approved by the faculty earlier this year to allow for the sudden change of instruction method.
“I appreciate the lengths that our faculty have taken to support our students through this semester. Neither the instructor or the student was prepared to be catapulted into the online environment and both groups certainly arose to the challenge. I’m proud of how our staff have supported our students and I’m proud of the students’ tenacity to persevere.”