Coronavirus update from Chancellor Sandeen - March 5, 2020

by Cathy Sandeen, UAA Chancellor  |   

UPDATE (March 12, 2020) — Major updates to UA’s COVID-19 response: University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen today announced plans to extend spring break, move classes to distance delivery, move students out of campus residence halls and cancel large campus events due to concerns about the worldwide spread of COVID-19.

Dear UAA Community,

As you know from the news, the threat of infection from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, remains very real. While there are no known cases in Alaska at this time, taking the proper precautions to prevent the spread of this illness are critical to protecting your health and the health of those around you.

UAA is leveraging integrated teams at our university and at the system level to monitor and prepare for the possible spread of the coronavirus to Alaska. As many of you prepare to travel for spring break, please be aware of travel advisories the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has in place for ongoing transmission. Please use the university’s secure online form to self-report if you are traveling to a region with active COVID-19 cases or think you may have been exposed some other way.

University guidance

On Tuesday, President Johnsen issued guidance regarding self-quarantine requirements for employees, students and campus visitors who are traveling to, or returning to, one of our campuses from areas designated by the CDC as Level 2 or 3 where transmission is ongoing. The president has already suspended university business travel to all areas on the CDC’s travel advisory lists.

Please know we are committed to the health and safety of the UAA community. We also support students and employees who need to self-quarantine.

  • Students/Faculty – Students should know they will not be penalized academically for self-quarantine. Faculty members should make reasonable accommodations to minimize academic impact if a student needs to self-quarantine.
  • Supervisors/Employees – We encourage all supervisors to be flexible with work and leave options for employees. Employees should communicate with their supervisor if they have plans for personal travel to CDC-designated Level 2 or 3 areas so that plans for administrative leave or remote work can be arranged during self-quarantine.

Prevention is key

The CDC recommends the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Use a facemask if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the diseases to others.
  • Stay home when you are sick except to get medical care. Call your health care provider before going to their offices if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Other planning

In addition to the items above, UAA also has an academic continuity committee developing plans to support faculty in the event we need to move face-to-face instruction online should we be required to close any campuses or parts of campus. The Student Health and Counseling Center, Office of Emergency Management and members of UAA’s Incident Management Team are monitoring this situation. For the latest information on the university’s response to coronavirus, visit the UA coronavirus website

I hope this message, and those issued by the UA Statewide Office, serve to reassure you that we are monitoring the situation, making plans and will be ready to respond should that need arise.

Cathy Sandeen
UAA Chancellor

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