COVID-19 campus update

by Jim Johnsen, UA President  |   

Dear University of Alaska Community,

Yesterday, leaders throughout the University of Alaska system had the opportunity to meet with state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin, who shared the latest information about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The conversation offered useful insights regarding the national and state response, including the importance of doing everything we can to help slow the spread of the virus. Goals include allowing scientists more time to develop medical interventions and helping prevent health care systems from becoming overloaded.

Travel Restrictions - As a member of many communities throughout our state, the University of Alaska is committed to doing its part in those efforts. Last week, I established a restriction on travel for university business to ALL areas listed on the CDC’s travel advisory lists, regardless of level. This list is changing frequently so please consult it regularly if planning or engaging in international travel.

UA Community Restrictions - I am also establishing some restrictions on employees, students and visitors to our universities who are arriving from certain parts of the world or who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Following are details of these restrictions:

The restrictions apply to employees, students and campus visitors who:

  • Are traveling to UA, or returning to UA, from travel in CDC Level 2 or 3 areas within the past 14 days;
  • Have symptoms of COVID-19; or
  • Have been in close contact with someone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who is under investigation by the CDC or the Alaska Section on Epidemiology.

What are the restrictions?

  • Students will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, and will be offered flexible academic adjustments and support. Accommodations will be made for these students.
  • Employees will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, and will be placed on paid administrative leave or sick leave, if ill, or at the discretion of their supervisor, assigned to work from home. Additional guidance is forthcoming from Human Resources.
  • Visitors, including attendees at conferences and gatherings, are asked to self-identify and observe the UA self-quarantine policies and not visit campuses during that period. University employees and students are encouraged to explore options for visitors to participate in meetings and conferences electronically.

Each university has been working toward prevention as well as planning for responses to incidents of illness in our communities, and will be implementing the above policies. Look for messages from your chancellor with details as well as other useful information.

If you do plan to travel to an area with active COVID-19 cases, be mindful of possible travel disruptions as well as possible restrictions on return. We have set up a secure online form for students and employees to use to let us know if they have traveled to a region with active cases or think they may have been exposed some other way.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or under investigation by CDC or the Alaska Section on Epidemiology, please follow CDC guidance and stay at home, call your health care provider, and make sure to mention your circumstances. CDC information for the public about this situation can be found at the CDC website. Information specific to Alaska can be found at the Alaska DHSS Human Coronavirus webpage.

Thank you for helping keep our UA communities safe.

Jim Johnsen

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