Dear UAF community,

Earlier today, you received a message from President Johnsen with some additional guidance on how UA is responding to the spread of the COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Members of Core Cabinet and I were also able to participate in a briefing from Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist. The information he shared will help guide us as we work on our UAF preparedness plans.
While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska, many people at UAF are working to make sure we are ready to address the needs of our university community if we do start to see cases in Alaska. Here’s what we are working on now:

Because of the self-quarantine requirement, we are working on a plan to make sure that students who live on campus are able to do so. Self-quarantine is an important tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and it’s important that students know they won’t be penalized academically for doing the right thing. Faculty members will make reasonable accommodations to minimize academic impact if a student needs to self-quarantine. I am also temporarily suspending the requirement for doctor’s notes for students who are ill. The provost will be working with each student and their instructor and dean to ensure reasonable academic accommodations. If you need to inform the university of your travel plans, or if you think you may have been exposed to the virus, visit the UA coronavirus website for a link to a reporting form.

We understand that self-quarantine can be disruptive to work obligations, and we are encouraging all supervisors to be flexible with work and leave options for employees. If you have plans to travel, or are currently traveling, in one of the CDC Level 2 or 3 areas, please let your supervisor know as soon as possible so that you can develop a plan for administrative leave or working remotely during your self-quarantine. The same applies if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who is symptomatic. Please note that official university travel is currently prohibited to areas on the CDC’s travel advisory list, regardless of level.

Please work with your employees, as their job duties allow, to enable them to work from home during required self-quarantine or to take administrative leave. Please also ensure that your staff are equipped with VPN access, laptops and other tools required for business continuity. If you have HR-related questions, please work with Nycolett Ripley, the UAF senior HR business partner. Nycolett can be reached at or 907-450-8215.

Guidance, in addition to that provided by President Johnsen, will follow regarding the broad category of campus visitors.

Per CDC guidance, the best way to prevent the spread of illness is:
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care. Call your health care provider before going to their offices if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
As additional precautions, UAF Environmental Health and Safety and UAF Facility Services are posting additional signage and adding more hand-sanitizer dispensers in high-traffic areas. ABM, our custodial contractor, is wiping down work and study surfaces, doorknobs, and conference tables in high-traffic areas and is up to speed on appropriate cleaning procedures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

I am working closely with UA and UAF leadership to monitor the situation and will continue to provide updates as available. For the latest information on the university’s response to coronavirus,
visit the UA coronavirus website.

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