June 30, 2020

Dear UAF faculty and staff,

Thank you to everyone for working hard to ensure our campus is ready to welcome back students in August, and thank you to the students who have registered for fall classes already.

I want to share with you a little more about where we are with our planning efforts for the fall semester. The COVID-19 crisis is being managed by UAF’s Incident Management Team, which is composed of representatives from across UAF. The UAF IMT has been ably led by UAF’s Fire Chief Doug Schrage. Communications to date have related mainly to the changing policy landscape across the UA system, but, as we get closer to fall, we will begin sending a weekly communication every Tuesday, updating you on planning activities.

I think it is important during this time to keep in mind that things could change. We are planning to have residence halls open and some in-person classes in the Fall, as described below, but if things change, we will adapt. Our students and many faculty have asked for in-person classes and we will do our best to provide them. I am confident in our ability to provide students with an excellent “hybrid” class delivery. I am also confident in our resilience and adaptability.

While some of these are written from the perspective of the Troth Yeddha' campus, it is important to note that all UAF-wide safety policies and procedures will be in place at the community campuses. The UAF Community and Technical College and the College of Rural and Community Development campuses are planning for fall in-person classes, as well as all distance courses, as scheduled.

Here’s where things stand so far.

On June 16, Provost Prakash shared important information about our academic planning for Fall 2020 in a message to employees and a message to students. Our planning is guided, among other things, by the feedback we have received from our faculty, staff, and students.

Over the last two weeks, deans and department chairs have been soliciting input from faculty members on the details of each of the nearly 1,500 classes that are scheduled to be offered in the Fall, including a full array of general education, major, minor and elective courses.

The fall semester will start Monday, Aug. 24, as published in the 2020-2021 academic calendar.

Facilities Services is evaluating classrooms to determine how many people can fit in a room while allowing at least 6 feet of distance between them. As in all facilities, with some exceptions, faculty and students will be required to wear protective masks to ensure the safety and well-being of all.

Provost Prakash has been working with Deans over the last month on plans for Fall classes. UAF will use a hybrid model, where more classes than normal are offered by distance delivery. We expect at least one third of UAF’s classes will be offered via distance, including large lecture-based classes. One third will be offered in- person, in spaces that allow a minimum of 6 feet of distance between students. The remainder will be a combination of online and in-person.

The class schedules and delivery methods are being updated regularly in UAOnline and Course Finder. If a change is made to a course, the academic department will notify affected students and faculty. Students should work with their advisors if there are any changes to their schedule.

UAF has canceled outbound international programs for fall 2020 due to travel restrictions. UAF will continue to support domestic National Student Exchange placements. International students and scholars who are likely to be impacted by President Trump’s proclamation that came into effect on June 24 will be contacted by the UAF Office of International Programs and Initiatives.

Faculty Senate is developing an addendum to all syllabi to ensure that students receive information on COVID resources and are aware of their responsibilities and faculty expectations. UAF’s eCampus is providing training and support opportunities to faculty to deliver instruction by multiple methods. Many courses will feature the HyFlex model, providing online/distance instruction and traditional classroom instruction from within the same course section to be as flexible and prepared as possible.

Campus life and operations
All in-person events will use physical distancing and will require masks. Most events will be available online via Zoom, BeLive or other social media platforms. Conference room occupancy will be limited to 25%-50%.

Nanook Recreation is open, and has placed exercise equipment to promote physical distancing. Wearing masks may be required in certain areas of the facility.

The Department of Athletics will follow conference and state mandates and protocols for restarting athletics in the fall, which will include regular, mandatory testing of all student athletes.

Showers will reopen but have card swipe access that will limit use to UAF students and employees.

The Office of the Bursar is open Wednesdays and Fridays by appointment through the summer for carding and department deposits. The office will resume regular business hours when allowed to do so. Please use online options for payment and account changes to limit interactions and exposure.

Applications for PolarExpress cards can be filled out online. The cards will be delivered to first-year students instead of at Rev It Up. Employees and other students can schedule a pickup time at the Bursar’s Office.

Dining Services and the Pub
Food service will be available this Fall at the Wood Center dining locations. Campus Cache, Java Joe’s, M3 Cafe and the CTC Cafe will be closed. The number of diners will be limited in the service areas, and tables will be placed to allow plenty of room between them. Dining employees will be screened daily, and tables and other surfaces cleaned frequently. Other changes include switching to single-serve and single-use items.

The Pub will open for the Fall with reduced activities, limited seating, and new serving protocols.

Residence Life
Students in on-campus housing will be contacted by Residence Life after July 6 to schedule their move-in date.
  • Aug. 19-21 — First-year students and new students move in to their residence hall
  • Aug. 20-23 — Returning students begin checking in to their residence hall or apartment
Students will be limited to one person per room (a single room) in Moore, Bartlett, Skarland, McIntosh and Wickersham halls. Cutler Apartments will have no more than four residents per unit.

Residents will be required to wear a face mask in residence halls as in other UAF buildings except in specifically excluded activities.

COVID-19 testing
Per State of Alaska protocols, everyone traveling from outside Alaska must have a COVID-19-negative test 72 hours prior to departure, and must follow all State of Alaska travel requirements, including a follow-up second COVID-19 test within 7-14 days of the first test.

Testing and screening protocols for residential students, student athletes, and non-residential students are still under development. We are working with Foundation Health Partners as well as our student health center and contract services providers to ensure that we have adequate testing available once the specific protocols are developed.

Many research units had already resumed some on-site operations in Phase A, due to a state exception designating research as a critical infrastructure activity. Research units continue to update and refine their plans for operating under Phase B, and many are developing plans for Phase C operations. Templates for COVID-19 mitigation planning can be downloaded here.

Researchers should work with their deans and directors on any additional needs, including approval for travel. At this point, international business travel must be approved by the UA President and US business travel must be approved by the Chancellor. These approval levels are set by the UA System policy. If that changes we will communicate it as soon as possible.

Safety measures
Because of the strong evidence that face masks are an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19, UAF will be requiring face masks indoors, except in single-occupancy rooms with doors that can be closed or for specific authorized exceptions. Employees and students are encouraged to provide their own masks. The university will have masks available for visitors, those who do not have access to masks, and other special situations.

Physical work that is underway at this time includes inspecting air-handling systems in buildings and adding plexiglass barriers where face-to-face interactions between people will take place. If you need help determining if your area needs barriers, please send an email to

An easy-to-use online form is now available for units to request supplies, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for their office areas. Other examples include personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, and branded signage and decals to encourage physical distancing and safe habits.

UAF’s custodial contractor will continue once-a-day cleaning and disinfecting of most common spaces across campus. Disinfectant spray and wipes will be provided for individuals and departments for additional cleaning in their high-touch surfaces or personal space.

There is much more at work and more communications to come. Thank you to the IMT and to you for all that you are doing for UAF and for our research, teaching and outreach missions.

Thank you for choosing UAF.

— Dan White, chancellor

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