Aug. 25, 2020

Yesterday was an exciting day. Students were back on campus as the first day of classes launched. What was even more exciting was seeing all of the students, faculty and staff in face coverings and maintaining social distancing, and seeing the care and respect we are providing each other during this pandemic. Thank you all for doing your part to help keep Nanook Nation safe.

Student testing
With the semester starting, some questions have come up regarding student and employee COVID-19 testing. The UA system developed a student testing protocol that is in use at all of the UA universities, including UAF. I encourage everyone to review the student testing guidance and what is required (PDF).

In short, the guidance requires all residential students to take two COVID-19 tests regardless of the method of travel used to arrive on campus. We recommend that students, when possible, bring a negative COVID-19 test with them that was taken 72 hours prior to their departure for Alaska. Any student arriving in Alaska who plans to live on campus, including State of Alaska residents, must take the two COVID-19 tests or complete the 14-day quarantine. Students who are Alaska residents returning to Alaska and who are not living on campus may complete a 14-day quarantine off campus rather than testing but may not attend class until the end of their quarantine period.

Students who are not living on campus are not subject to the two test regime but are restricted from accessing campus if they fit one of a number of criteria related to COVID-19. These restrictions are documented in the UA Campus Entry Restrictions Guidance (PDF) and may require testing as a condition of access.

Employee testing
In regards to employee testing, the UA system has established that employees should receive testing as determined by their health care professional. UA Human Resources has worked with providers to ensure that there are no out-of-pocket costs for testing under the university’s health care plan.

Dr. Tom Hennessy, a retired CDC epidemiologist and UAA adjunct faculty member, discussed testing during last week’s COVID-19 forum. I would encourage anyone interested in his presentation to check out the recording. Dr. Hennessy’s expertise has helped shape the UA system office’s thinking around testing protocols for students and employees.

Shower facilities
I know that many have been looking forward to the return of campus shower facilities. I am happy to let you know that limited shower facilities are reopening on campus. Shower privileges will be granted to UAF faculty, staff and students on a limited basis. Responsible management of these spaces will promote healthy outcomes for our campus community as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Priority will be given to those with a demonstrated need for campus shower facilities; if approved, shower location and access will be assigned on an individual basis. (Click here for the shower access request form.)

Mental health and self-care
One last note, because COVID-19 is creating some limitations to social engagement, I want to bring everyone’s attention to your own mental and psychological well-being as well as that of those around you. The week of Sept. 6-12, the Nanook Diversity and Action Center is hosting National Suicide Prevention Week activities that encourage the UAF community to learn to destigmatize mental health concerns, engage in prevention awareness, discover campus support resources, and participate in education and conversations about offering hope. NDAC also offers tools such as UAF's Interactive Screening Program for Suicide Prevention.

Don’t forget to join us this Friday at 10 a.m. for our fifth weekly COVID-19 virtual forum, which can be viewed here. With campus getting busy and students back in the classroom, the forum provides the latest information regarding UAF and how we are moving forward through the pandemic with everyone's safety and education in mind.

Thanks for choosing UAF!

— Dan White, chancellor
facebook instagram pinterest twitter youtube