Resources for parents
Resources to Support Your UAF Student During the COVID-19 Crisis
The ongoing global pandemic has upended our lives in unimaginable ways. Out of concern for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, UAF made the difficult decision to transition all courses online and close down the residence halls and other facilities on campus.
We know that this transition has been difficult for students and their families. We’ve put together the following resources to help you and your student through this time of immense change and uncertainty.
Please note: due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), university officials may not be able to discuss your student’s individual circumstances with you unless a FERPA waiver is on file with the university. Please contact the Office of the Registrar if you have FERPA-related questions: 907-474-6300 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Coronavirus Information and Emergency Alerts
For the most up to date information about the university’s response to the coronavirus, please visit the University of Alaska’s Coronavirus Information site.
Right now, your student is working through some of the most significant changes in their life so far. Everyone adjusts to change differently, but are some things you can do to support your student as they navigate through change (adapted from the University of Colorado Boulder):
Listen and Ask Questions
Many students are feeling uncertain right now. They may be disappointed about canceled events and activities or not being able to finish out their year on campus. Some may be feeling disconnected from friends and roommates that they normally see every day. Others may be struggling to adjust to online classes or feel a loss of freedom and independence.
It may be helpful to have a space where your student can share how they are feeling. Ask open-ended questions to give your student an opportunity to talk things out. Empathize and validate their feelings. Let them know that everyone manages change differently, and it can take time to adapt to new routines and environments.
Focus on Routines
Routines give us structure, provide comfort and establish a level of predictability to our lives. Recent changes have disrupted many of your student’s routines, but that doesn’t mean they should let them go completely.
Encourage your student to stick to their daily routines as much as possible, or create new routines to fit their new schedule and environment. They could block out specific times for coursework or stick to their previous class schedule as much as possible. If your student usually has lunch with friends, they could try to recreate a variation of that routine by scheduling video chats and virtually “meet up” for lunch as they normally would in person. If they typically went to the gym at a certain time, they could exercise outdoors or at home during that same time.
If your student has moved back home, keep in mind that their schedule and routines may look different from others in your household. Maybe they do their best studying late at night or are used to taking naps after class. Unless their routines are disrupting others, give them space to maintain what works for them. Otherwise, involve your student in re-creating structure and help them problem-solve to figure out new routines and systems that work for everyone.
Negotiate Expectations and Boundaries
If your student has returned home from living on campus, the expectations may not be clear when it comes to helping out with household responsibilities while they are home. Discuss expectations when it comes to laundry, dishes and other household chores. Keep in mind that your student’s academic success should be among their top priorities. Figuring out how to balance household duties with academic responsibilities is important for you and your student.
As you and your student reestablish routines with more time at home, talk about how often you’d like to spend time together. Maybe it’s having dinner together, or participating in a family activity once a week. Talk to your student about how much time they need to maintain the feeling of independence they had at college. It’s okay if your student wants some time to themselves and you may need to have open conversations about establishing healthy boundaries.
During uncertain times, your student may need to have difficult conversations with you, especially if things have not been going well. Sometimes this can lead to conflict.
While most people think conflict is a negative thing, it’s very normal and can result in growth, learning and better understanding. Here are some things you can do that lead to a healthy, positive experience if you find yourself in conflict with your student:
- In a conversation, allow your student to share their point of view without interrupting. Try to listen without judgment. Sometimes, your student might just need to vent.
- What you mean to say is not always what the other person hears—think about the intent and impact of your message. If you’re not sure what your student’s intent is during the conversation, let them know what you’re hearing and ask if that is what they meant.
- Try repeating or rephrasing what your student said to build understanding. “It sounds like you’re trying to say….” or “You said that you need _____, is that correct?”
- When sharing your point of view, speak from your perspective. In turn, try to see things from your student’s perspective as well, rather than make assumptions.
- Use “I” statements. For example: “I feel disrespected when you ____.”
- Avoid absolute statements such as “You always” or “You never.”
- When agreement is not possible, allow for multiple truths.
Maintaining our well-being can help the mind and body feel more regulated through times of change. Talk with your student about the importance of finding balance and taking care of their health. This can include:
- Getting a consistent amount of sleep (7–9 hours per night for college-aged students)
- Eating regular, balanced meals
- Staying active
- Finding time to relax
- Staying connected with friends and family
If it ever feels like too much for your student, the Student Health and Counseling Center can help.
Getting used to changes in our lives can take time, and everyone’s timeline looks different. The Center for Student Engagement is here to support you at every step of the way and can help connect you to the right resources on campus.
Many students experience mental health concerns while they are in college. According to a 2016 American College Health Association survey, 37 percent of students reported feeling so depressed within the last 12 months that it was difficult to function, and 21 percent felt overwhelming anxiety. The stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis is weighing heavily on students’ minds.
Here are ways you can help your college student cope with COVID-19.
Validate the Experience – It’s important to remember this isn’t a vacation from school or a way to get out of classes. This is a sudden change and a significant loss. Your student may be grieving the loss of their college community, graduation ceremonies, living environments, sporting events, etc. Make space for your student’s grief and allow them to move through the grieving process at their own pace.
Maintain Structure as Much as Possible – In addition to switching from in-person classes to online learning, students have lost much of their routine. Good sleep hygiene, nutrition, self-care, and activities outside of screen time are all part of this foundation. It’s essential to retain these practices as much as possible, particularly if students’ options are more limited in terms of what they can do and where they can go.
Be Mindful of Exposure to the News – It’s important to stay informed, but it’s also important to know when you need a pause from stressful news. Students need to take a break to watch a movie, read, or joke with friends. Such practices will build resiliency for the stressful news that’s arriving with increasing frequency.
Maintain or Establish Healthy Habits – Students can boost their immune system by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Social distancing is also a great way to maintain their health and help others. Nanook Recreation is offering virtual fitness classes to help students stay focused on fitness.
Stay Connected – This is an isolating experience for students as a whole. Students should consider moving beyond texting or social media to more interpersonal communications, such as phone or video calls with friends. Make plans to watch shows remotely together. This is a time to get creative about maintaining vital social connections. UAF continues to offer virtual events and other opportunities for students to engage with other members of the UAF community. See below.
Cultivate Hope – Your student (and maybe you yourself) have never been through a crisis like this before, but crises can make us stronger. Reassure your student that life will get back to normal eventually. Teach that hope is not just believing things will get better, it is taking action to make that happen. Self-care and keeping up with classes are part of what keeps hope alive.
Things to Look For
Knowing when someone is struggling with their mental health can be difficult. There’s no easy test to determine whether someone’s behaviors are the result of a mental illness; however, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has compiled this list of common signs of mental illness:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
The bottom line is: trust your gut. If your student’s behavior has changed and you are concerned about your student, check in with them and refer them to the resources listed below.
Mental Health Resources
If you are concerned about your student’s mental health, there are resources available:
Student Health and Counseling Center
The Student Health and Counseling Center provides a range of medical and counseling services to students and has transitioned to telehealth for most of their services. Students experiencing mental health emergencies are usually seen on the same day and after-hours mental health services are available. Visit their website or call 907-474-7043 for more information.
Resource and Advocacy Center
A collaboration between UAF And the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living, the Resource and Advocacy Center (RAC) provides confidential support to individuals who have experienced stalking, sexual harassment or sexual violence.
RAC is offering weekly Community Connections every Wednesday in April via Zoom:
Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities
The Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities (CSRR) supports student-centered programs and services designed to assist students in achieving their personal, educational, and social goals. CSRR staff can help you or your student get connected with resources and navigate UAF policies and procedures.
CSRR also coordinates the Student Care Team -- a team of faculty and staff who work together to support students experiencing challenges or hardships. If you are concerned about your student, the Student Care Team can reach out; simply fill out the online form or call the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities at 907-474-7317.
The Careline is a 24-hour crisis, suicide prevention and someone-to-talk-to line. All calls are free, caring, confidential and answered by a trained crisis intervention professional located in Alaska. 1-877-266-4357.
Even in the current crisis, academic success should be among your student’s top priorities. Your student’s instructors and academic advisors are still available to educate and support students. Transitioning to online courses may be challenging for some students, but there are resources to help.
Online Course Success
UAF eCampus has put together a guide for succeeding in online courses. Share this guide with your student and use it to start a conversation about how you can help your student be successful in their courses.
UAF’s Office of Information Technology has a limited number of Chromebooks and mobile hotspot devices available for students. Eligibility requirements and reservation forms can be found online at: https://www.alaska.edu/virtual-campus/loan-equipment.php
Communicating With Instructors
UAF faculty and instructors remain committed to supporting your student’s success. If your student is struggling with a course, their first step should be to contact their instructor. Many instructors are offering virtual office hours and some have shared their phone numbers with students. Your student may also reach their instructors via email and these tips from Stanford University can help your student craft professional emails:
It's better to err on the side of being too formal rather than too casual. Follow these rules of basic email etiquette:
- Address your recipient by title and last name (Dear Professor Interesting)
- Use full sentences and proper grammar, avoiding slang and emojis
- Keep the tone of your email courteous
- End with a concluding phrase and your name (Sincerely, Juan Pupil)
- Give a useful subject line (Research on X)
- Stay brief and to the point
Long emails often get ignored until the recipient has time to deal with them, and faculty are extremely busy. Your email should focus on a specific item, such as setting up a time to meet or informing your professor of an upcoming absence. If you need to talk about something more involved, it is probably better to meet in person unless your professor tells you otherwise.
Reply in a timely fashion
Professors appreciate a prompt reply just as much as you do. If a faculty member emails you for something that will take some time (for example, a report on your progress in the lab), reply quickly to confirm that you’re working on the task and provide a timeline for completion.
Emailing to Ask for Accommodations
Maybe you've been sick and have been missing class, or maybe you're dealing with an unexpected emergency. Whatever your circumstances, it's best to inform your instructors of your situation as soon as you can and ask if they can make accommodations for you.
Briefly explain your situation-- you don't have to give details if it makes you uncomfortable. Ask specifically for whatever accommodation you're seeking (for example, an extension on a paper, or an alternate exam time). And do mention any support you're getting, because your instructors are probably worried about you. For example:
Dear Professor So-and-So,
I'm Jane, a student in your X class. Because of a family emergency, I will be away from campus all of next week. I am writing to apologize for my absence from class and ask if I might have an extension on the paper due next Friday. Any accommodation you can provide would be deeply appreciated. I have been talking with my Academic Advisor about my situation and have copied her on this message.
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you.
In certain cases, there may be department policies or other logistical challenges that prevent an instructor from giving you the accommodations you seek. But it's always worth letting your instructor know about your situation and asking if there's any way they can be flexible with you. Remember that your professors are human too, and may be very willing to help you so long as you keep the doors of communication open.
UAF has made changes to a number of academic policies to accommodate students during this crisis. Provost Anupma Prakash outlined these changes in a letter to students on March 20. Some of these changes include:
- Extension of the course withdrawal deadline to April 10, 2020.
- Students may elect to change their course grading to Credit/No-Credit up until April 21, 2020.
- Faculty will not require proctored exams, including final exams.
Your student should consult with their academic advisor before dropping any course or changing to the Credit/No-Credit grade option; there could be significant financial aid or degree completion impacts to consider.
Registration for the fall semester is open for degree-seeking students. The Office of the Registrar’s registration guide contains a step-by-step process for registering for classes.
Please note: your student must meet with their academic advisor before registering for classes. If your student is unsure who their academic advisor is, they should check the Office of Admissions advising and registration page or contact the Academic Advising Center at 907-474-6396 or email@example.com
The connections students make with peers, faculty and university staff are central to the college experience. While the campus closure and social-distancing requirements make it more difficult to maintain these connections, it’s not impossible.
Here are some tips to share with your student to help them stay connected:
Stay in touch with their faculty, advisors and mentors. It’s not as easy as just dropping into someone’s office, but UAF staff and faculty are still working and are still here to support students. Encourage your student to keep in touch with the faculty and staff they would normally connect with on campus.
Schedule check-ins with their friends. Encourage your student to be intentional about scheduling check-ins and virtual hangouts with their friends. Taking the time to schedule a phone call or Zoom hangout is a great way to stay connected and nurture important relationships.
Watch movies, TED Talks or read books together. Netflix Party allows groups of people to watch Netflix together. Watching TED Talks or reading a book as a group is a way for your student to engage in some outside-of-the-classroom learning with their friends.
The Daily Bruin (UCLA’s student newspaper) has a great list of ways students can stay connected and avoid boredom, including online fitness classes, drawing classes and online games.
The Center for Student Engagement (CSE) and other UAF departments continue to offer events for students, though all events have been moved online. The best place to find information about UAF events is Nanook Engage. CSE also sends out weekly newsletters to students.
Follow these social media accounts to stay informed about what’s happening:
UAF Wood Center — FB and INSTA @nanookengage
This page should be where students can find all Center for Student Engagement events and postings.
University of Alaska Fairbanks — FB and Twitter @uafairbanks
Keep up to date with how UAF is responding to the pandemic and updates within the Fairbanks community
UAF Student Leadership and Involvement Office — FB @uafleadership | INSTA @uaf.sli
The page to discover leadership development, volunteer experiences on campus and in the Fairbanks community, club resources, and student activities.
UAF Nanook Diversity and Action Center — FB @uafnanookdiversity | INSTA @uafndac
The page to discover opportunities for events and activities that include diversity, inclusion, and wellness at UAF
UAF Sustainability — FB @uafsustainability | INSTA @uaf_sustainability
Learn how to make UAF a more sustainable place to learn, work, and live. Student employees run our programs and all programs and projects funded are selected by the student-led RISE Board.
UAF Residence Life — FB @uafreslife | INSTA @uafresidencelife
Follow ResLife to learn more about how they are responding to the pandemic and the ongoing events they will be hosting online.
UAF Resource and Advocacy Center — FB @uafrac
The UAF Resource and Advocacy Center provides confidential support to students, faculty, and staff who have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. Our confidential hotline is available 24/7
UAF Career Services — FB @uafcareer
Follow to get resources on career counseling, job searches and internship advising, resume and cover letter reviews, job shadow programs, mock interviews. Resources on how to maximize your career development during the COVID-19
Student Support Fund
The Student Support Fund was established through a gift to the UAF Alumni Association and has grown through the support of many caring, committed benefactors. In addition to providing one-time assistance to students in need due to extenuating circumstances and when all other options are exhausted, the Student Support Fund currently provides financial assistance to students in need due to the COVID-19 crisis.
To qualify for this fund a student must be a degree-seeking student at UAF that is currently making progress towards their degree. Students who apply and receive this fund must be willing to continue working with the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities for support and problem-solving.
Students may fill out the online application. All applications received will be reviewed on a weekly basis by the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will make the final decision.
The Wood Center Food Pantry provides supplemental food assistance to students. During the current COVID crisis, students living on-campus can request one food bag per week which will be distributed by the Residence Life staff. Requests should be submitted by Sunday evening and food bags will be distributed Thursdays and Fridays. The form must be filled out weekly.
Office of the Bursar
The Office of the Bursar handles student accounts and student account payments. Due to recent COVID-19 mandates, the Office of the Bursar has extended the Spring payment plan deadlines: the April installment will now be due May 1, 2020 and the May installment will be due June 1, 2020.
If you think your student may not be able to pay their spring balance in full by June 1, 2020 due to the financial impact of COVID-19 please contact the office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to further discuss available options.