Sept. 3, 2020

Dear UAF staff and faculty,

Earlier this week, I mentioned the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s 14-day average exceeded 10 cases per 100,000. That average nudged the borough into the “high” category from the “intermediate” category in the state’s risk metric, which is one of the metrics we use to evaluate our operational status.

UAF is currently in Phase B of the On-site Operations Plan (PDF). After discussions with UAF leadership and concurrence from interim President Pat Pitney, UAF will remain in Phase B because we do not meet the three criteria that are considerations for a decision to return to the more restrictive Phase A status. Those criteria are:
  1. A period of 7 days where the region is high or is trending high (14 day average of more than 10 cases per 100,000);
  2. Other risks are determined to be “high” (for example, reduced regional hospital capacity, or UAF isolation space); and
  3. Indications that transmission on one of our campuses or sites is out of control.
I want to emphasize that we consider these criteria uniquely to each region of the state. At some point, we might find that some of our sites are in Phase A, others in Phase B and maybe some in Phase C, depending on the situation in each region.

The number of positive cases has gone up recently — both in individual Alaska communities and at the Fairbanks campus specifically. While these are important to note, I anticipate the number of UAF cases will moderate as we adjust to the new way of doing things. I again urge everyone to wear a mask, maintain physical distance and practice good hygiene. This is especially important to remember as you enjoy the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Please note that there was a bump in cases nationwide after the 4th of July. Please be safe on and off campus.

We continue to revise the UAF COVID-19 dashboard. You can now view the number of positive cases reported daily and the percent of isolation space occupied. It is important to remember that the daily case numbers reflect all of UAF’s locations across the state and not just the Fairbanks campus, and include students, staff and faculty who work and take classes entirely remotely.

Another important thing to remember is that just because there is a case on campus, you may not hear about it. The point of contact tracing is to protect the privacy of COVID-19-positive individuals at the same time that all those potentially impacted are made aware and advised of precautions that they need to take. The more specific information the contact tracer receives, the more targeted the information about the incident.

In some cases there is no need for notification. In cases where there is non-specific information provided to the contact tracer, the notifications are equally broad. The university would also be made specifically aware of cleaning procedures or building closures where such are warranted. Contact tracers, whether UAF’s or DHSS’s, directly contact those individuals who could have been in contact with the individual during a potentially contagious time. Furthermore, contact tracers consult with faculty directly as to appropriate measures, such as quarantining.

Employees who need a COVID-19 test for work-related reasons — such as going into a remote community where it is required, or as part of a research expedition — should contact Tracey Martinson, director of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management, at

I am proud of the work and cooperation of our students, faculty and staff to keep our university healthy and strong. Thank you for choosing UAF and enjoy the long weekend.

— Dan White, chancellor
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