Combating COVID-19 takes layers of prevention

Marmian Grimes

Sept. 3, 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic, public health officials have advised people to use multiple ways to keep themselves safe. Wearing a mask is good. Wearing a mask and avoiding large crowds is better. Adding frequent handwashing to the mix is even better. At UAF, this layered approach to prevention applies to the way we operate as well.

This summer, as universities across the nation were planning for the fall semester, the CDC issued updated guidance for colleges and universities to help them slow the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses. It echoes the personal safety advice we've all been following for more than a year. The CDC guidance offers a list of prevention strategies and advises universities to choose multiple strategies for the best community protection.  
The number one thing that the CDC recommends is vaccination.
At UAF, we offer vaccination for students at the Student Health and Counseling Center, along with pop-up clinics on campus for employees, students and members of the public. We have required vaccination for groups of students where high contact creates greater potential for transmission, such as in residence halls, intercollegiate athletes and rural student cohorts.  We are also encouraging people to get vaccinated and share their status to be entered into prize drawings. The best way to bring this pandemic to a close is for everyone to get vaccinated.

In addition to our efforts to encourage vaccination, we have implemented multiple layers of CDC-recommended prevention measures:  

  • We have a universal masking policy for all students, employees and visitors to campus.
  • We have visible reminders to wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home if you are sick, as well as regular policy updates from leadership, a designated website for sharing accurate information about the pandemic, and daily emails reminding employees and students to stay home if they are sick, get tested and inform the university if they have COVID-19. 
  • We have extended the availability of COVID-19 emergency sick leave for employees.
  • We are encouraging faculty members to be flexible with students who need to stay home because they are sick.
  • We have a mechanism for people to report to the university when they test positive or are a close contact, and staff to help with identifying others who may have been exposed.
  • We have on-campus diagnostic testing for students and encourage employees to get tested using free community resources.
  • We have space for quarantine and isolation for students who live on campus.
  • We have increased ventilation, where the need has been identified, and increased cleaning around campus.
  • We have requested that students who are not vaccinated maintain 6 feet of distance from others in their classrooms. We are making classroom adjustments, where needed and possible, to allow for such distancing. 

For more information about UAF’s operations during the pandemic, visit the UAF COVID-19 website.