Updates to on-site operations plan and UA guidance

July 29, 2020

Updates to on-site operations plan and UA guidance

In just a few weeks, our universities will kick off the fall semester. In preparation for that, the systemwide leaders and their teams have been working to update our on-site operations plan and several of our guidance documents.

These updated documents are posted on our University of Alaska COVID-19 website. Here’s what you need to know:

On-site operations plan

The updated plan still uses a phased concept, however we will no longer be setting a systemwide phase. Instead, each university’s or site’s phase will be based on local conditions and the ability of the universities or sites to meet the requirements of that phase. Our state is large and our communities distant from each other. That has been reflected in the COVID-19 case trends. For example, there has been a large number of cases in Anchorage recently, while case counts in southwest Alaska remain low. For these reasons, a regional approach makes more sense.

Our plan also relies heavily on the new regional alert levels established by the State of Alaska. These alert levels are based on the per capita number of cases in a given region and are an objective metric of pandemic conditions. When identifying a phase for a university or site, the president and the chancellors will consider three things:

  • The alert levels
  • Other community conditions, such as health care capacity, local response, epidemiology and public health expert advice, and student access to educational resources
  • The degree to which each university or site can implement safety measures

Detailed information about each university’s operations will be available on its section of the UA COVID-19 website. For more information about the five phases of the on-site operations plan, visit this page.

Updated policy guidance

Student testing – This is new guidance and may need to be adjusted slightly due to changes to Alaska’s interstate travel mandates announced July 28 and slated to take effect on Aug. 11. As the UA testing guidance reads now, students arriving from outside Alaska and all students living in on-campus residence halls or other congregate settings will be required to take a series of two COVID-19 tests and may need to quarantine or minimize their interactions with others while they wait for their tests results to arrive. This requirement also applies to students who leave the state and return in the middle of the semester. Students are strongly encouraged to stay aware of state travel mandates and carefully consider any plans to leave the state during the semester. Regardless of changes to state mandates, the university anticipates having some sort of testing requirement in place for the fall semester. The UA document can be accessed here and also includes provisions for student testing for those who have symptoms, have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and who are enrolled in classes where it’s not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance between people.

Campus entry restrictions  This guidance was updated to reflect current state travel mandates and university travel guidance. It requires people to stay away from campus for a designated amount of time, or in some cases until medically cleared, if they have traveled outside of Alaska or been on a cruise ship, if they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or if they have COVID-19 or have symptoms and are waiting for test results. The guidance also provides direction for people living in campus housing.

Other policy guidance changes – The study abroad policy has been rescinded. International students and those interested in study abroad programs should contact the offices at their respective universities, as federal regulations on immigration and travel continue to be in flux.