March 29, 2020

TO: Chancellors and President’s Staff
FROM: Jim Johnsen, President
RE: Coronavirus – UA Response to State of Alaska Health Mandates 11 & 12

As discussed yesterday, the following provides a policy-level synthesis of the requirements of the Governor’s March 27 Health Mandates. Please implement in your respective administrative units. In addition, it requests that you provide specific information in support of our planned request to the Governor’s Office for certain additional exceptions to the Mandates.


  • Mandate - All employees must work remotely with the following exceptions:
  • Exceptions Require the following Analysis:
    • Does the employee’s function require in-person presence on campus, i.e., tasks cannot be performed remotely?
      • If tasks do not require in-person presence, the work may not be performed inperson.
    • If tasks must be performed in-person, on premises work is only permitted if one of the following exceptions apply:
      • The function must directly support UA’s primary exception, i.e., the delivery of Distance Education (support may include certain employees in utilities, IT, payroll, housing and dining, essential maintenance, media, and health and public safety); or
      • The function must meet other exceptions (e.g., residential facilities, medical services, or other services in support of Distance Education, public health, or other essential services, construction, utilities, financial services, etc.). See governor’s list of essential services; or
      • The function must constitute a “Minimum Basic Operation” as defined in Mandate 11, provided that employees can comply with Social Distancing:
        • “i. The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.” (This should be interpreted as preservation and maintenance activities required for a warm shutdown of non-essential operations.)
        • “ii. The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.”
      • If the function is not covered by one of the exceptions stated above, in-person work is prohibited. Such prohibited functions include:
        • Delivery of in-person classes (see process for Additional Exceptions below);
          • However, in person delivery of certain health program classes currently in operation may continue pending further review.
        • Work in support of in-person classes;
          • However, computer labs in support of Distance Education will proceed, with required “social distancing” and other protective measures;
        • Research that does not support essential services and that cannot be conducted from home;
          • Exceptions:
            • Animal care and other limited work to ensure ongoing viability and recovery of laboratory and education support facilities;
            • Essential staffing for functions that are part of specific critical infrastructure or public safety work, such as the Alaska Volcano Observatory, State Virology Lab, Alaska Earthquake Center, Alaska Satellite Facility, National Weather Service and the Wilson Alaska Technical Center;
            • “Minimum Basic Staffing”* for facilities such as R/V Sikuliaq and Toolik Field Station
          • If any essential in-person tasks are covered by an exception provided above:
            • A written determination must be provided as soon as practicable to employees required to be on campus that states:
              • Their function is covered by an exception to the State’s health mandates requiring non-essential business closures/stay at home;
              • The determination must:
                • identify the exception;
                • specify the parts of the function that cannot be performed remotely;
                • specify the manner in which the functions can be safely performed, including social distancing measures;
              • That the employee may report to work only to perform those required in-person tasks.
            • In addition, a written plan must be developed covering anyone working on campus ensuring:
              • social distancing, and
              • that any intra-community travel (including commuting) ensures the safety of employees, critical infrastructure and the community;
            • Employees who cannot work remotely should initially be placed on administrative leave. Additional guidance regarding additional options (e.g., furlough or layoff) is forthcoming.

Additional Exceptions

We are considering a request to the Governor’s office for a limited set of additional exceptions. For example, we have a small number of classes that continue to be taught in person. For which, if any, of these should we request exceptions? I am in favor of such a request for classes that support public health, if that is the desire of the chancellors. I will consider other requests on a case by case basis. Please provide your requests for additional exceptions, with rationale and provisions for risk mitigation, to me no later than noon Monday. After consideration, I will submit a request to the Governor’s office by the end of the day. In the interim, only those inperson classes that support public health may proceed, with risk mitigation. Other in-person classes should be put on hold pending resolution.

Attachment: Summary of Potential Applicable Exceptions

cc: UA Interim Chief Risk Officer

Categories Exempt
Healthcare Operations
  • Clinics
  • Mental health providers
  • Other healthcare facilities
  • Research and development … of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology therapies, consumer health products, medical devices, diagnostics, equipment, services, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare operations.
  • Includes veterinary care
Essential Infrastructure
  • Public works construction
  • Construction of housing
  • Water, sewer, gas, electrical
  • Solid waste collections and removal
  • Internet and telecommunications services
Financial Services Sector
  • Process and maintain systems for processing financials transactions and services, such as payment, clearing and settlement services,
  • Support financial operations, such as those staffing data and security operations
  • Key third party providers who deliver core services
First Responders
  • Emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel
Essential Government Functions
  •  Services needed ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and provide for the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Essential Business
  • Retail sale of food
  • Newspaper, television, radio and other media services
  • Business supporting other essential businesses/services/infrastructure
  • Plumbers, electricians, … and other service providers who provide services necessary to the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of residences and critical infrastructure
  • Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
  • Educational institutions facilitating distance learning
  • Restaurants and other businesses that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out consistent with prior state guidance.
  • Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults or children
  • All other businesses that can maintain social distancing requirements and prohibit congregations of 10 or more people in the business at a time, including employees.