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story.lead_photo.caption University of Arkansas students are shown on the lawn in front of Old Main on the campus in Fayetteville in this file photo. - Photo by David Gottschalk

Leaders of campus groups representing University of Arkansas, Fayetteville faculty members, students and staff on Thursday approved a joint resolution calling for the wearing of face coverings indoors in all UA buildings to help manage the covid-19 pandemic.

The resolution, which is non-binding, makes explicit a call for masking to be required indoors, unlike the university’s Return to Campus plan, first published June 1, which states a general requirement for campus masking in public where physical distancing is difficult.

In the two-page resolution, the campus leaders “insist that the University of Arkansas administration prioritize the health and safety of the entire campus community and require proper face coverings for ALL persons on campus in ALL indoor settings, including classrooms and labs, beginning forthwith.”

Leaders for the UA faculty senate, Campus Faculty, the Associated Student Government, the Graduate-Professional Student Congress and the UA staff senate all signed the resolution.

The UA Return to Campus plan states that face coverings “are required for all students, employees and visitors while on campus in public settings and where social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its website advises the use of face coverings “to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” The state and Northwest Arkansas in recent weeks have seen new daily covid-19 case counts rise to highs not seen earlier in the pandemic.

Fran Hagstrom, the 2019-20 chair of the UA faculty senate, said the group’s executive committee has been meeting this summer but not the full senate body.

The resolution was jointly written by the leaders for the campus groups and forwarded to the chancellor and provost, Hagstrom said.

“The resolution was given a good deal of thought and through the process does reflect the sentiments of the various groups,” Hagstrom said in an email.

The UA staff senate had members vote Thursday on the non-binding resolution, said Trish Watkins, chair of the staff senate group.

“Twenty-two voted and we had two abstentions. No one voted against it,” Watkins said.

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees considered a masking resolution last week that would have applied to campuses in the UA System, but no vote took place as trustees raised questions about how such a resolution might apply to visitors and campus athletic teams.

The draft UA System resolution, which trustees said will be changed and reconsidered at a future meeting, stated that campuses would adopt policies requiring masks in university facilities where physical distancing is not possible.

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