University implementation of new state health mandates


March 28, 2020

To:       University of Alaska employees and students

From:   UA President Jim Johnsen

Re:       University implementation of new state health mandates

Yesterday evening, the governor issued two new public health mandates that will have substantial effects on university operations.

The first is Health Mandate 11, which is a statewide “stay home” or “shelter-in-place” order.  That order also imposes restrictions on businesses, with exceptions for those that are considered “essential.” The university’s distance delivery operations, operations in support of that mission, as well as other services and critical infrastructure and operations listed in this attachment to the mandate are considered essential. In general, if you are following university guidelines, you are in compliance with the state health mandate.

The second is Health Mandate 12 , which prohibits in-state travel, with very few exceptions.

As you know, the university has already moved most of its classes from in-person to alternative or distance delivery methods and has encouraged employees to work from home where feasible. We will be working to review the details of the orders and further refine our operations. However, effective 5 p.m. today, university employees, students and researchers should take the following actions:

For university employees

  • If you have been working at home, you should continue to work at home.
  • If your supervisor has directed you to work on campus, you should continue to do so, unless directed otherwise. Examples could include certain employees in utilities, IT, payroll, housing and dining, building maintenance, media, and health and public safety.
  • If you are not currently working at home you should begin doing so, unless you have been directed to work in person.

If you are unsure about whether you should work from home, contact your supervisor for guidance. Supervisors should consult their management for guidance. Early next week, employees who fall into one of the exceptions to the mandate will receive a letter from the university with those details.

For university students

  • If you have been taking your courses via distance delivery from your home (including on-campus housing), you should continue to do so.
  • If you have been attending in-person courses, you should not come to campus for those courses. Your instructor or advisor will contact you with next steps. We may be seeking an exception for certain in-person classes.
  • If you are currently coming onto campus to access distance delivery of courses, you may continue to do so. We will be seeking further guidance from the state on this issue. 

For researchers

  • Research that does not support essential services and that cannot be conducted from home is not within the exception and must be suspended.
  • Exceptions are:
    • Animal care.
    • Essential staffing for functions that are part of specific critical infrastructure or public safety work, such as the Alaska Volcano Observatory, State Virology Lab, Alaska Earthquake Center, Alaska Satellite Facility, National Weather Service and the Wilson Alaska Technical Center
    • Minimum basic staffing” for R/V Sikuliaq and Toolik Field Station.

Other university impacts

  • Community restrictions remain in place.
  • All on-campus events of any kind must be canceled.
  • All in-state travel between communities and out-of-state travel for university business is prohibited unless an exception is granted by your chancellor and approved by the State of Alaska. 

The university will continue to update its policies and FAQs as state public health mandates change. Please note that federal, state and local public health mandates will always supersede less-restrictive university policies, so employees and students are encouraged to stay abreast of those restrictions as well by checking with their local governments, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thank you for your patience as we work through all the details of these new mandates and most important, for your ongoing commitment to the health and safety of everyone in our community.