Face covering and quarantine update

by Pat Pitney, UA Interim President  |   

Dear UA community: 

In late May, consistent with CDC guidance, we relaxed our masking requirement for those fully vaccinated. Since then, the emergence and rapid spread of the delta variant has resulted in changes to CDC guidance. That has prompted us to re-evaluate our approach. 

This week, the CDC announced that wearing face masks is recommended for everyone regardless of vaccination status when in public indoor spaces in communities where there are a large number of new cases each week. In Alaska, nearly all of our communities fall into that category. 

Because the delta variant spreads easily, it has become clear that we need to return to universal face masking in order to minimize the potential for the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses.

Effective Aug. 2, face masks will be required indoors at all University of Alaska locations in communities with a transmission level of 'substantial' or 'high,' as defined by CDC guidelines, except when you are in a private residence or alone in a private office with the door shut. Masks are also required in university vehicles and outdoors when it’s not possible to remain more than six feet from others. Chancellors have the authority to grant exceptions or put more restrictions in place, so it’s important to be aware of your university’s specific masking policies. Chancellors will be in communication with you about changes based on local transmission levels.

Currently, all university and community campus locations are at ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ according to new CDC guidelines. If the CDC transmission level drops below ‘substantial’ in a location for a period of seven consecutive days, chancellors may enact less-restrictive masking policies at that location.

The CDC also has updated its guidance regarding quarantine after being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people who have been exposed to someone with COVID should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms, and should quarantine for 10 days if their result is positive.

The UA COVID-19 website has more details about the university’s updated masking guidance and we will be updating our COVID FAQs as information becomes available. Each university also will be updating its face covering policy to reflect the new system level guidance.

Thank you for working together to ensure our universities are as safe as possible as we return for the fall semester. If we all are vaccinated, wear our masks and practice other basic safety measures like handwashing and staying home when sick, we can slow the spread and reach the other side of this pandemic.  

—Pat Pitney,
Interim President, University of Alaska

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