Nov. 20, 2020

Dear UAF community,

Thank you to all for continuing to keep our UAF community safe. Our numbers at UAF have stayed low compared to other communities throughout Alaska, and I credit this to everyone's effort in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for following our mask policy and reminding those who may not be aware of the policy.

With the holidays comes a desire for larger gatherings and social outings. This year, the State of Alaska has encouraged everyone to gather in person with only their immediate family, small household (or student residence) bubble, and, if possible, take activities outside. This will be critical to keeping our COVID-19 numbers under control. I appreciate all of the activities that Residence Life and the Center for Student Engagement have put in place for students who remain in residence on UAF campuses over Thanksgiving.

As you make plans for the holidays and winter closure, please review the new UA-wide guidance that was released Tuesday from the UA System office. The system office has updated guidance on campus entry restrictions, student testing and travel to align with the State of Alaska Outbreak Health Order 6 and Order 8, effective Nov. 16. (Previous to these orders being called “Outbreak Health Orders,” updates were found under “Health Mandates” from the State of Alaska.)

Health Order 6 now governs travel outside the State of Alaska. Per the new order, if an Alaska resident is traveling outside of the state for more than 72 hours, the following is required upon return:
  • Have a single negative COVID-19 test and observe strict social distancing for five days after arriving in the state. After that, normal activities may be resumed. A second test is recommended but not required. Travel checklists for employees and students are available on the UA COVID-19 website.
  • If you choose not to test at all, you must quarantine for 14 days after arrival into Alaska. (This quarantine applies to all UAF residential students.)
At this time, the university has asked the state for clarification regarding testing requirements for in-state travel. We expect additional information to be shared from the UA System office at any time. If you are planning to travel anywhere for the Thanksgiving weekend, either outside Alaska or within Alaska, you may be required to get a COVID-19 test before or after you travel, or both (depending on where you go). The CDC has a helpful travel planner with information about locations based on zip code.

The general updates to the UA student testing guidance align it more closely with the new state travel health orders. That being said UAF will still require all students living on campus or taking in-person classes to have two negative COVID-19 tests when returning to campus housing. In order to expedite the process, students should arrive with a COVID-19 negative test when returning to campus, which can be taken up to 72 hours in advance of travel. While on campus, strict social distancing needs to be observed until a second negative COVID-19 test is received, which can be taken no sooner than five days after the date of your initial test. Tests can be received at the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHCC). If a student arrives in the state without a negative test, one can be administered at SHCC. Students living on campus, if you have additional questions, please contact Residence Life.

When returning from winter break, many students will need to observe strict social distance for some period between five and 14 days. Strict social distancing means they will not be able to attend class in person during that time. I encourage all faculty to think about the first week or two of classes and understand that during this time there may be students who need additional accommodation to receive the material without penalty. I encourage everyone to be flexible during this time as we do everything we can to provide equity and equal access to education.

In order to comply with the governor’s recent announcement to limit in-person activities for three weeks, UAF will limit most campus event requests and cancel some previously scheduled and approved events. Thank you for your patience.

A big thank you to the Operational Support Team (OST) for working through the mandate and health order changes, and thank you to faculty, staff and students for keeping our campus safe and healthy.

Thanks for choosing UAF.

— Dan White, chancellor
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