What faculty can expect this fall

July 14, 2020

Dear faculty, 

Today we sent out an important message to all UAF students that had information pertaining to 

  • Health and safety guidelines
  • Driving to Alaska
  • Course schedules and registering for classes
  • Financial aid information
  • Housing and dining
  • CRCD and CTC students
  • Wood Center student union and the Center for Student Engagement
  • Center for student rights and responsibilities
  • Athletics and Nanook Recreation
  • International student information
  • Military and veteran student information

I encourage all faculty and staff to read the message to students. In addition to what we communicated with the students, there are other important fall planning activities going on that are particularly important for faculty members. I would like to remind you to take the following steps so we can make sure that we are meeting your needs as well as the needs of our students.

  1. If you have not already done so, please reach out to your dean and department chair to indicate your preference for teaching modality and to ensure that you (or your unit) submits necessary course-change forms by Friday, July 17, at the latest. As we set up the fall course offerings, it was already very important to have the final schedule up to help advisors and students, but this has become more time sensitive as we need to report our plans to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for students who must register for face-to-face classes. We also need to work with each individual international student on academic advising.Please communicate any specific technology, space or equipment needs for your in-person or online classes to your department chair and dean.
  2. Develop thoughtful online content, even if you are planning to give your course face-to-face. We must be prepared for the possibility of students or faculty who need to miss class due to illness, or the need to shift all courses online if there is a change in UAF’s COVID-19 phase. You can request financial support and assistance to help you redesign, adapt or improve your fall course offering. 
  3. Sign up for and take advantage of the workshops and support provided by eCampus so that we can space out support as we will not be able to help everyone a week before the semester starts. Go here to see the wide range of support available

The class schedule is online and reflects all changes made to date, though some schedule and modality changes might continue as conditions change. If your class schedule is not reflected correctly, please check with your department chair and dean.  

Safety in classrooms

Masks and face shields

Students will be required to wear masks in classrooms and labs. Students will be asked to bring their own masks. UAF will also have supplies of sanitizers and masks for those who do not have a mask or forget to bring one. We are purchasing face shields for faculty who prefer to give face-to-face classes. These will be available for faculty to pick up from the Facilities Services front desk before the start of the fall semester.

If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult for you to wear a mask, please contact UA Human Resources for guidance or to request accommodation. Students should work with UAF Disability Services.

Culture of safety 

UAF will implement a social norms campaign to educate and inform students, create a social pledge, and will have daily education and information sessions and factual updates for students. In short, we will be holding students accountable and responsible for keeping themselves, their peers, faculty and others safe on campus. 

Classroom cleaning 

All spaces that are scheduled for teaching will be cleaned by custodians at least once a day, including dusting surfaces and fixtures; cleaning and disinfecting tables, desks and work benches; emptying trash and cleaning receptacles as needed; and disinfecting light switches and door fixtures. OIT and Facilities Services will provide a plan for supplying, cleaning and disinfecting smart-classroom technology and other electronics, such as providing stylus pens to eliminate the need to touch smart screens and sanitizing wipes to be used solely for electronics. Additionally, UAF is purchasing a bulk supply of classroom cleaning supplies so occupants can clean personal spaces before and after class. 

Physical distancing and traffic control

Facilities Services has worked out an occupancy plan for all classrooms to ensure a 6-foot physical distance between any two occupants. Furniture will be placed apart from each other, or spaces will be clearly marked as “do not occupy” to maintain adequate distancing. For rooms with two doors, one door will be clearly marked and used for entry and one for exit.  

Smart classroom plan for fall 2020

The UAF Troth Yeddha’ campus in Fairbanks has smart classrooms that use technology to provide a rich in-classroom experience with the option to connect remotely with others. There are 17 general use and 56 department-specific classrooms that have the full suite of technology to connect almost anywhere through Zoom. These smart classrooms were designed with audio and video technology to provide a superior classroom-to-classroom and classroom-to-remote-participant experience. Along with displays for video, the technology enables audio throughout the space, allowing in-classroom participants to interact with remote participants using a typical classroom speaking voice. 

As an innovative stop-gap measure, Hovercam document cameras will be used to add Zoom functionality to rooms that are not outfitted with the full suite of technology. The audio experience is not the same as spaces designed with audio throughout the room. These devices have built-in microphones that limit the experience for in-room voice going out; however, the sound coming in goes through the speakers in the room. This is not ideal but would add Zoom capability to an additional 30 classrooms swiftly. The principal drawback is that the instructor will need to be close to the Hovercam when speaking.

  • UAF generally scheduled
    Total smart classrooms: 45
    Classrooms capable of joining Zoom by fall 2020: 40
    *3 rooms do not have in-room computers to add Hovercams
  • UAF departmentally owned
    Total smart classrooms: 97
    Classrooms capable of joining Zoom by fall 2020 56

We will be expecting departments to share their classroom spaces with others as needed. 

For CRCD and CTC classrooms, the appropriate deans will communicate further about classroom setup and faculty needs. 

Faculty offices

If a faculty member does not have a classroom space already reserved for teaching their class, they will have access to their personal office space should they choose to teach their distance class from their office. OIT has purchased webcams and microphones that you can borrow in case your computer is not set up with these devices. eCampus has additional equipment for loan. 


I thank you for checking on your students' well-being, encouraging them to enroll, adapting your courses for the coming semester, and for navigating through these changing uncertain times. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your dean or to me should you have any questions or concerns that we can address.

— Anupma Prakash, provost and executive vice chancellor