April 14, 2020

TO:                  Provost Prakash and Vice Chancellors Champagne, Hinzman, Peter and Queen
FROM:          Daniel M. White, Chancellor
RE:                  Research under Health Mandates 11 and 12

Please distribute as appropriate.

A few weeks ago, President Johnsen shared Governor Dunleavy's Health Mandate 11 and 12, which directed the people of Alaska to shelter in place and to avoid in-state travel.  The original mandate described UA’s business to be to provide distance education. As such, research that did not support essential services and could not be conducted from home had to be temporarily suspended.  On Friday, I sent a letter to President Johnsen asking that UA’s research be included in UA’s business as defined in the health mandate. Over the weekend, President Johnsen requested clarification from Governor Dunleavy who responded positively, but established restrictions.

We would proceed with research activity under the following restrictions:

  • Only those research activities that cannot be accomplished remotely would be conducted in-person;
  • Travel would be compliant with health mandates; and 
  • Social distancing as defined in the Essential Services Order would be maintained, including six foot separation where feasible, elevated hygiene and cleaning, training on handwashing and sneeze and cough control.

Approvals for conducting research in our campus laboratories or in the field must still be secured from the supervising Dean or Director.  The investigator should submit a request to the Dean or Director with three components.  One is the justification on why the work cannot be accomplished remotely, as well as why it needs to be completed now; the second is a safety plan, explaining how any travel required would comply with health mandates; and third, how the work will comply with social distancing requirements/can be conducted without putting anyone at risk.  It is then up to the Dean or Director to accept the request, call for changes, or deny the request. 

If the Dean or Director believes the research should not be delayed, meets the three conditions imposed by the Governor, and determines the safety plan is adequate to protect the health of all concerned, then they may allow the research to proceed.  If allowances are made, the supervising Provost or Vice Chancellor should be notified prior to commencement of the research. This allowance may be extended to faculty, staff, and students as deemed appropriate.

The Center for Disease Control provides guidance on sneezing and cough control here: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html

It is important to remember the Governor's Health Mandates 11 and 12 are still in place and must be observed.  In addition, President Johnsen's ban on travel to rural communities remains in effect.  Research can only be approved if we are confident that such efforts will not facilitate the spread of COVID-19.

We are hopeful this exemption will enable our researchers to continue their important work.   Please contact your Dean, Director, or Vice Chancellor for Research Hinzman if you have additional questions.