July 28, 2021

    Dear UAF faculty and staff,

    My Tuesday COVID column slipped to Wednesday this week as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic as we prepare for the fall 2021 semester. We are closely watching changing CDC guidance and local conditions, and continuously monitor community transmission and vaccination rates in relation to university operations.

    Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control released new masking recommendations for vaccinated individuals. We are working with President Pitney now on any changes to the University’s current approach. I would expect a communication by the end of the week regarding a systemwide response from President Pitney and any new guidance for UAF from me.

    As outlined in my last few COVID-19 columns, UAF expects the resumption of primarily in-person work by Aug. 2. This is similar to approaches being taken at UAA and UAS. For employees requesting remote work assignments, please work with your supervisor and complete a telecommuting agreement form, which can be found on the University of Alaska Personnel Forms page. (Use a keyword search for “telecommuting.”)

    COVID-19 testing for employees and students has come up in recent conversation. Residential students will be tested for COVID-19 when they return to campus and move into university housing as they did last academic year. Frequent testing of asymptomatic students or employees throughout the semester, however, is not planned. We were advised against this practice throughout the pandemic as testing is simply a snapshot, and a negative test can produce a false sense of security leading to a higher risk of outbreaks. Students can get tests at the Student Health and Counseling Center, and employees can be tested through their health care provider or other facilities in their community.

    Please continue to report COVID-19 symptoms, positive tests or close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19. Our on-site operations plan prohibits COVID-19-positive individuals from accessing campus except those who are residential and are in one of our isolation dorms.

    As part of our Keep Nanook Nation Healthy campaign, we are scheduling a series of pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics throughout the fall semester, beginning no later than Aug. 18. Keep an eye on the Cornerstone for dates and locations. In addition, COVID-19 vaccines are currently available by appointment for students through the UAF Student Health and Counseling Center’s patient portal.

    We have developed a new UAF COVID-19 vaccination voluntary attestation form. Sharing your vaccination status will help us manage campus operations during the upcoming academic year. If you are vaccinated, you may opt in to a regular drawing to win a prize. Prizes include parking passes, Munch Money and gift certificates to the UAF Bookstore. The information regarding vaccination status will only be used to gauge levels of vaccination at UAF. This means we will only be looking at overall numbers, percentages and trends.

    Thank you for working together and building a compassionate campus community.

    Thanks for choosing UAF.

    — Dan White, chancellor
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