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Aug. 17, 2021

Dear staff, faculty and students, 

I want to thank the UAF faculty, staff and students for taking measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As I walk around campus, I see 100% compliance with the face covering policy. Thank you! 

To date, 1,308 employees and students have voluntarily attested that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine and 8 attested that they have not. Awesome! I’d like to recognize the employees at our Northwest Campus in Nome, where 61% have confirmed that they are vaccinated. Let’s keep that number moving in a positive direction. Sleeves up, Nooks!

I encourage everyone to fill out our UAF COVID-19 vaccination voluntary attestation form. This will give us a better understanding of our vaccination rates and help inform decision making (and there are prizes!).

As I mentioned in last week’s column, we have been actively considering expanding the Kuskokwim Campus’ residential COVID-19 vaccination requirement to all UAF single-student housing (residence halls) as well as intercollegiate athletes. We have also been engaged in an active discussion about vaccine requirements for other categories of employees, such as those traveling with intercollegiate athletics, and those traveling internationally. 

Because of the increased COVID-19 risk from competition inherent to intercollegiate sports, the associated travel, and the COVID rules and policies of our competitors, UAF athletics is unique in many regards. After communication with the team physician, and with the support of athletic director Brock Anundson, UAF will now require that intercollegiate athletes be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved waiver. COVID-19 waivers may be granted for medical reasons or based on a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. While the requirement is being conveyed today, students will have until Oct. 29 to either provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or have an approved waiver. We will continue to discuss the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for traveling athletics staff, including coaches and trainers.

This week, our students begin moving into the residence halls. As part of that process, they are required to attest to their vaccination status. Early indications suggest that greater than 80% of the students entering residence halls are either arriving vaccinated or are receiving a vaccination in the Student Health and Counseling Center. That is great! This appears to demonstrate a high fidelity to vaccination and protection against the serious impacts of the virus. Due to what appears to be a high rate of vaccination already, we will wait the remainder of this week to make a determination on vaccine requirements for the residence halls. If the majority of residential students attest to being vaccinated, we will likely not need to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for UAF residential students at this time. 

If the data available at the end of this week do not demonstrate high rates of vaccination among residential students, we will revisit a vaccine requirement. If at some point a vaccination requirement is put in place, we will provide ample time and accommodation for students to provide verification of vaccination, get vaccinated for free at the Student Health and Counseling Center, or request a waiver. 

If you aren’t already fully vaccinated, we are offering two free vaccination clinics this week. Stop by the tent in front of Constitution Hall between
10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 18 and 19, to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The second dose will be available in the Akasofu Building lobby on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Rolling up our sleeves and getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to keep Nanook Nation healthy!

Thank you for choosing UAF. 

— Dan White, chancellor


UAF is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual: www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination/.