Aug. 18, 2020

Dear UAF faculty and staff,

This Friday, the weekly COVID-19 virtual forum has been scheduled from 9-10 a.m. and will feature special guest speaker Dr. Tom Hennessy, medical doctor and infectious disease epidemiologist. He is also an affiliate faculty member with the UAA College of Health and is the former director of the CDC Arctic Investigations Program in Anchorage.

Dr. Hennessy will talk about the COVID-19 environment, aerosols and COVID-19 testing. We’ll also have Jak Maier, Faculty Senate president and a Faculty Senate COVID-19 Committee member, who will present on updated academic policies and best practices for in-person and hybrid courses.

Doug Schrage, UAF fire chief and director of emergency management, will be on hand to provide COVID-19 updates that will include a brief overview of the new contact tracing procedure released earlier today. The Department of Health and Human Services conducts contact tracing on behalf of the state. UAF will now also conduct contact tracing to ensure the utmost safety of our students, staff and faculty.

Contact tracing follows a specific set of guidelines that helps determine what notifications are needed when someone becomes COVID-19 positive. The level of notification is a function of the amount of detailed information provided by the COVID-19 positive individual. It is important to remember that it is the contact tracer’s responsibility to work with our director of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management to determine what notifications are needed. If you do not see a notification about a COVID-19 positive case you are aware of, it will be because the determination was made that no one was put at risk and the facilities used were deemed safe.

As UAF implements additional safety measures, please remember to order any needed PPE for your departments through the Facilities Services web form. As of late Friday afternoon, an option for staff to order face shields was added to the PPE order list. We currently offer two different types of face shields — the humanity shield and our own locally produced open-bottom face shield — made by the Geophysical Institute machine shop. We have some face shields on hand but additional shields have been ordered.

In compliance with UAF’s face covering policy, a booth will be set up outside the Patty Center starting this Wednesday and outside the Wood Center next week to provide students with one reusable face covering. The face covering pick-up booth will be open as follows:

Patty Center
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wood Center
Thursday, Aug. 20, 3 p.m.-6 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 24, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 25, 3-6 p.m.

Please encourage your students to stop by and pick up their reusable face covering during any of the above listed days and times. Additionally, if you miss picking up a branded face covering, Wood Center and Moore-Bartlett-Skarland Complex will have them available for students to pick up after Aug. 31. Students living on campus will be given a face covering in their student care kit. Departments will only be required to have disposable face covering on hand to give to students or visitors if one is forgotten. Disposable masks provided by the university are not intended for daily use.

Many questions have recently come up around COVID-19 testing for students taking in-person courses in which physical distancing is not possible. Per the UA student testing guidance (PDF), “each university will establish and communicate specific plans regarding safety, which may include additional testing requirements.” At this time, UAF is not requiring asymptomatic testing for students to take in-person courses. Because some classes, such as those in the health field, require close contact, asymptomatic testing may be part of approved COVID-19 mitigation plans in these specialized courses.

Last week, UA Statewide retired the UA events policy. In light of this, UAF is working on establishing clear guidelines for approving internal and external events. At this time, only small to medium internal events are being approved. Examples include student-oriented events, departmental meetings, workshops, academic training, and small celebrations (e.g., student pinning ceremony). At this time, no external events are being approved. Departments should continue to route routine event requests through the UAF events form, and students should continue to route requests through the Wood Center scheduling office.

Guidance on when UAF will begin approving events held on campus by external community partners will be reviewed and evaluated as we move through the pandemic. Campus safety is our number one priority, and we are waiting to open campus to external events until we can assure we can do so safely.

Please join us this Friday at 9 a.m. for the COVID-19 forum with guest panelist Dr. Tom Hennessy, and don’t forget to submit your questions in advance.

Thank you for choosing UAF!

— Dan White, chancellor
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