Sept. 8, 2020

Dear UAF community,

As we enter the third week of the fall semester, things are largely going as planned. Students are on campus and in classes. Enrollment is about where we had hoped it would be, with even more new students enrolled this fall on the Troth Yeddha’ Campus than last year at this time! That is in large part due to the very hard work of the Operations Support Team and the Enrollment Management Team. Special thanks as well to Residence Life and the Faculty Senate COVID-19 committee. Well done!

While we are seeing a rise in the daily reports of COVID-19-positive cases in our Fairbanks community, UAF numbers have largely been in the ones and twos. There was a small spike of six positive cases that showed up Aug. 29, but that appears to have been short-lived. I think the data are a good sign that while cases are not zero, they are also not showing a concerning trend. I want to thank everyone for this work.

The positive signs are not an opportunity to relax, though, as our goal is zero cases. This makes it ever more important for everyone to do their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at all UAF locations.

I want to remind everyone to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing, wear face coverings, disinfect surface tops and continue washing hands frequently. This is important to do at UAF, at home and about town. Taking precautions everywhere will help us create a safer campus and community.

For the safety of our campus users, the Rasmuson Library 23 hour study space was closed last Friday, Sept. 4. UAF received reports that users were not complying with COVID-19 safety practices such as wearing face coverings and physical distancing. At this time, we are working on a new plan to reopen the study space and hope to have it available soon. It’s important that anyone using campus facilities follows safety guidance as outlined for that space.

If you are concerned about something or someone not following UAF’s COVID-19 safety guidelines and policies, there are several ways to report. Students can report concerns to the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities via the UAF Student Care Team Report Form. We are working on setting up a similar website for employees to report concerns. At this time, employees should report any violations or concerns to their supervisor, dean or director.

The UAF Operations Support Team recently launched a COVID-19 dashboard that tracks reported COVID-19 cases among university students, employees and contractors. Cumulative case counts reflect all UAF locations, including rural campuses, since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alaska in mid-March.
It is important to note that the dashboard data includes all UAF faculty, staff and students, not all of whom are at a physical UAF location. Any student, staff or faculty member who reports their health status as COVID-19-positive is included in the dashboard, regardless of whether they live, study or work at a UAF facility.

Another data point on the dashboard is the isolation space occupied. This is an indication of the number of residential students who tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently isolating in one of two residence halls reserved for that purpose. The isolation period is 10 days from the time a person receives a positive test. We already have students moving out of isolation. That is a good thing!

Another area the OST is working on is a universal mitigation plan for Fairbanks and rural campuses that unit deans and directors could use as a standard form rather than asking each unit to develop a different approach. Units that already have a mitigation plan in place would only need to review their current plan and compare it to the broader plan to make sure there are no gaps,

In closing, I wanted to thank everyone who has been following our safety practices on campus and in the community. I know this has been a big change for everyone, and I appreciate your effort to keep our campus and community safe. If you need resources for your own well-being, I encourage students to take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program, and for students to reach out to the Student Health and Counseling Center. This has been a lot, but we are succeeding in our mission!

Thank you for choosing UAF!

— by Dan White, chancellor
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