Dec. 1, 2020

Last week I included in my column a note that we were awaiting clarification on the travel guidelines in the governor’s recent health mandate. The UA System office is still in contact with the State of Alaska for clarification regarding testing requirements for in-state travel. At this time, no additional information has been received, but an update will be provided when available. If you are planning to travel either outside Alaska or within Alaska, please check the community requirements as you may be required to take a COVID-19 test and quarantine.

As work progresses on a coronavirus vaccine, organizations have begun planning how to deliver the vaccine. I and others at UAF have been working with the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) and the State’s health department on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The State of Alaska is currently working on a phased approach to distribute vaccines. Because UAF has health care facilities and first responders, we expect that some employees and students could be part of the first phase of vaccination. We also expect that students in residence halls and on-campus workers will likely be in the second phase of vaccination because of their placement in, or relation to, congregate housing. No matter how the distribution plan shapes up, however, it is important to remember that it will take time. It will also likely evolve with time as the state receives guidance from the CDC and develops their own distribution plans.

While the news about a vaccine is great, it does not mean that the threat of continued pandemic spread is over. It is still critical that we continue to practice the preventive measures we’ve been following: wear a mask and keep your 6-foot distancing. We’re all in this together!

Over the course of the fall semester, the Operations Support Team (OST) has been working on a universal mitigation plan called the “General Business and Academic Operations” (GBAO) plan. This is now UAF’s standard mitigation plan and covers all routine business and academic operations. Unless a business or academic department has unique or nonstandard operations, the GBAO plan will apply. This improvement should simplify the process of implementing changes to our operating plans as our circumstances and understanding of the pandemic evolve.

UAF is no longer requiring that each department develop their own COVID-19 mitigation plan as long as the GBAO plan covers their operations. Departments that deviate from the standard plan will continue to need their own, specific, approved plan on file. Some departments have supplemental information such as staggered work schedules that can be communicated internally and do not necessitate a nonstandard plan.

For a department that already has an existing, approved mitigation plan, no action is needed at this time. If departments choose to use the new GBAO, supervisors will need to make sure their personnel are familiar with their mitigation plan (standard or nonstandard) and that it is being followed.

To access the GBAO, a new drive has been created where standard and nonstandard plans will be accessible. You’ll find links to the drive on the GBAO website. Existing plans have also been migrated to the new drive, creating improvements to the way mitigation plans for academic and business operations across UAF are managed.

Thank you for your continued work to keep UAF a safe place to work and learn. Effective management of COVID-19 has allowed UAF to provide access to education!

Thank you for choosing UAF.

— Dan White, chancellor
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