Oct. 13, 2020

Dear UAF staff and faculty,

Over the summer, the University of Alaska system had a prohibition on in-person events hosted by the university. The broad declaration prevented everything from in-person department meetings to athletics events, music performances and celebrations. That prohibition has been changed to a policy that allows some events and meetings to take place on our campuses in accordance with CDC and State of Alaska guidance.

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses and in the communities we serve, I asked UAF’s Operations Support Team (OST) to develop a process by which UAF events could be vetted to ensure that we met the condition “consistent with CDC guidance.”

The new events process adheres to CDC recommendations and State of Alaska reopening policies. It also describes the types of events UAF can allow and who can approve them. The CDC categorizes events as:
  • Lowest-risk and more-risk events
  • Higher-risk events
  • Highest-risk events
In the new policy, each of these categories are defined. Some events, such as those in the lowest-risk and more-risk categories, do not need special approval. On the other hand, highest-risk events are not being approved at all unless under a specific exception by the chancellor. Some events are categorically excluded from the events policy because they are governed by other processes such as internal business meetings, Wood Center-scheduled student events, and events occurring under facility use agreements.

This is the first events policy that we have had since the COVID-19 pandemic began, so I am sure it will require some modification once it has been put through its paces. If you would like to suggest changes to the policy, please contact Nickole Conley, UAF executive officer, so we can make sure that the policy works effectively and as intended.

Of course any change to the State of Alaska alert levels can trigger immediate changes in the policy. We’ve recently seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the current State of Alaska alert level is high. Please continue to consider how events can be held in a different format than their traditional way. This need not necessarily be by Zoom. There are ways to show movies and hold informal gatherings and fundraisers that do not involve large numbers of people getting together. There may be ways to turn what would have been a large gathering into a series of smaller, low-risk events that are consistent with our current environment but that allow for some managed in-person activity.

On a separate but related note, please have a look at the revised COVID-19 dashboard. Additional information was added to separately count the number of those who had no access to any UAF facility (e.g., someone taking online classes elsewhere) from the number of those who may have spent time at a UAF facility when they might have been contagious. I hope that this information is more useful to our UAF community.

Please continue to keep in mind that as Alaska sees growth in COVID-19 case counts, what you do outside of your university role has just as large or a larger impact on whether you contract COVID-19. We need you working, teaching, researching or studying alongside (virtually or in person) your colleagues, so please do what you can to stay out of isolation or quarantine. The jump in cases that the community of Fairbanks saw last week was reflected in UAF’s case count. I was glad to see that over the weekend, however, our case count went back to zero for a couple days. Thank you for everything you are doing to keep us in the business of providing access to education for Nanook Nation.

Thanks for choosing UAF.

— Dan White, chancellor

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