Header Logo

Sept. 9, 2021

Dear UAF employees, 

Thank you for reaching out to me this semester to share your thoughts on UAF’s COVID-19 mitigation plans and safety measures at all of UAF’s campuses and research sites. UAF remains in Phase C and President Pitney and I regularly consult on our phase relative to the UA on-site operations plan. 

I have received a few emails recently about our COVID mitigation approach relative to CDC guidance. This was laid out by our Operations Support Team in a Cornerstone article last week. UAF has taken a layered approach to COVID mitigation and we continue to adapt as the pandemic changes, such as moving some sections to larger classrooms or to hybrid mode, and adding vaccination requirements to selected large and small sectors of the UAF community. 

With respect to vaccination requirements, we have been using and will continue to use the UA System tool we have at hand, which is requesting permission to apply vaccination requirements on a case-by-case basis.  We have already instituted a vaccine requirement to individual classes, cohorts and activities in addition to student housing and athletics that were already discussed. We are further considering requesting a COVID 19 vaccine requirement for intramural sports, larger in-person events, and travel. In some cases, we may consider proof of vaccination or a negative test as an alternative to a vaccine mandate. In all cases, options for approved waivers (medical and non-medical/religious) will be in place. 

A big question for UAF is whether we should seek approval to require vaccines more broadly, such as for all employees or all in-person activities. 

I received a memorandum from the faculty senate COVID committee, through the senate president, requesting a vaccine mandate for all UAF faculty, staff and students. While I continue to work with President Pitney on a multitude of specific exceptions, she and I will continue to discuss a broader application of requirements. Any broad application of COVID-19 vaccination requirements would require staging. I will suggest consideration of a vaccination requirement in steps, first for all UAF faculty, followed by consideration of a broader requirement for all UAF employees, and after that, consideration for in-person students at UAF. And while UAF Faculty Senate has officially requested a vaccine requirement for all employees and students, I will be asking Staff Council and ASUAF for their input as well. 

Because more COVID-19 vaccination requirements are being put in place each day, we will begin adding these to the COVID-19 website. In addition, localized exception requests will be sent to the individual units through their vice chancellor. Broad vaccination requirements, if adopted, will be sent out through this venue to all faculty, staff and students.

As a final note on vaccination, we are aware of President Biden’s “Path out of the Pandemic” order which would require vaccination for all employers of over 100 people (private and federal contractors). That plan is currently being assessed and would, of course, change this discussion significantly.

As always, you can share your vaccination status via the UAF COVID-19 vaccination voluntary attestation form, and encourage those around you to submit theirs. Knowing our vaccination rates can help us plan appropriately. If you attest that you’ve been vaccinated, you can be entered into a prize drawing.

I will host a forum on COVID-19 in the coming weeks. I’ll share information about that as the plan develops. Thank you for keeping Nanook Nation healthy. 

— Dan White, chancellor



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