The vast majority of University of Arkansas Fort Smith students who lived on campus at the beginning of the school year have chosen to stay during COVID-19 – but not without adjustments to their daily lives.


UAFS Housing Director Beth Eppinger on Friday said the 82% of the almost 600 on-campus students who have chosen to stay are using “reverse programs” like food delivery and dorm giveaways during the outbreak. These modified services come as students complete their courses online to finish the semester, which is bookended by a May 10 move-out date.


Eppinger cited reasons ranging from poor relationships with parents all the way to preferred learning arrangements for why the students have chosen to stay.


“It’s a variety of reasons students have chosen to stay. There are some who have chosen to stay a few days with their parents but then come back and stay in their rooms for a few days. It’s whatever is best for them to complete the semester,” Eppinger said.


Some of the students at the end of March decided to move home after UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley on March 19 announced the rest of the semester would be taught online at the university. Riley at the end of March said she planned to take an inventory of the students who decided to stay in the dorms and communicate with them about food service on campus.


Eppinger said students have not voiced concerns about the learning differences. But UAFS has asked students who are on campus to be more cognizant of the dorms’ courtesy hours so everyone can study and do their classwork.


There has been a higher demand for internet with the online move, Eppinger said.


“We are working side by side with our internet provider to make sure our internet does not fail,” she said.


Campus has kept dining open for every meal and that the dining employees are “very cautious in wiping down handles, wearing personal protective equipment.” She also said they have brought food to residents’ dorms in some cases.


Some students have become restless with the social distancing requirements. But the campus has tried to ease the restlessness as much as they can with food delivery, giveaways, Netflix parties and online workouts, Eppinger said.


“In a sense, services haven’t changed. We still want the students to have a good experience,” she said.


About 60 students are staying on campus for summer semester, Eppinger said. She also said housing numbers for the fall semester so far at “stable.”


She said it’s “nice to see” that COVID-19 hasn’t appeared to have a negative impact on next school year.


“Time will tell what could happen in the future, but for right now, we are proceeding ahead as if we are having a normal fall semester at UAFS,” she said.