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Sept. 2, 2021

Dear UAF staff and faculty,

As we navigate the beginning of the fall semester, I want to underscore the value of being vaccinated and the importance of attesting to your vaccination status in our voluntary attestation tool — whether you have received the COVID-19 vaccine or not. Please note that your personal information is not shared and data is only presented in aggregate forms. Knowing the percentage of our population that is vaccinated is important information to inform University decision making. 

If you are not vaccinated, I encourage you to do so by stopping by our pop-up Pfizer vaccination clinic, which will be held September 9 at the Akasofu Lobby from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Face coverings are an important mitigation measure and are required in all campus buildings unless you are in a private office or residence with the door shut or driving a university vehicle by yourself. Face coverings are also required outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. Failure to follow the face coverings policy has significant consequences, up to and including termination for employees and expulsion for students.

Because COVID-19 can infect both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals it is imperative that all employees and students follow the UAF face-covering policy. Even if you are vaccinated, you can still spread COVID-19. 

The UA system policy remains that COVID-19 vaccination requirements can be made by exception only. Those exceptions must be requested by the relevant chancellor and approved by the UA president. In this context, your Operations Support Team is currently working with university leaders and others to identify areas where we request exceptions to the UA policy, that is, where we request authority to require COVID-19 vaccination (or approved waiver).

We have been closely monitoring COVID-19 cases in the Interior and have implemented some new vaccination requirements. Now, in addition to student athletes and students living in residence halls, the Rural Human Service and Human Service student cohorts at the Kuskokwim campus, as well as Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning international travel programs require a COVID-19 vaccination or approved waiver.

As we begin to hold more in-person events on campus, we are going to make it possible for event planners to request that the event require a negative test taken within 72 hours of the event or proof of vaccination be part of their safety mitigation plan. This will not be required for all events but it does allow some flexibility to add protective measures to events. The operations support team (OST) is looking into expanding a testing or vaccination requirement for other large in-person events where necessary. Please visit the most current events policy and institutional events website to stay current on what things need to be in place to hold an event safely.

CDC guidelines for colleges and universities continue to be a topic of discussion. Along with encouraging and facilitating vaccination, the CDC offers a variety of measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campuses where some people are vaccinated and others are not. There will be an upcoming Cornerstone article discussing CDC guidance, but the most important takeaway is that colleges and universities are advised to take a layered approach to mitigation measures — something we are doing across UA and UAF. 

I have received several emails about providing more in-person spacing in certain academic settings. The Provost sent a message in this regard this morning and I know she has been actively working to reassign instructional spaces where more space in the classrooms is desired for students to spread out. I would encourage faculty who have concerns about spacing to work with their dean and the provost to find a solution, including but not limited to moving to a larger space, splitting into sections, or in some cases relying on creative hybrid in-person/on-line options that achieve the student learning outcomes. If there are specific academic activities that may require consideration for a vaccination requirement (i.e., an exception to the UA system policy) I ask that those be routed through your dean to the provost. For community campuses, these requests should be routed to me through the dean and the vice chancellor for rural, community and Native education.

Thank you for keeping 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/.