Health Report: University of Alaska Fairbanks implements COVID-19 policy changes

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 4:08 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) announced new policy changes Tuesday to protect against COVID-19.

According to Dan White, Chancellor of University of Alaska Fairbanks the decision was based on CDC recommendations and will be implemented by all University of Alaska schools. “Of course the University of Alaska Fairbanks is part of the University of Alaska system. Earlier in the summer, after the CDC had suggested that we could have relaxed mask requirements, or recommended relaxing the masking requirements if you’re vaccinated, we followed suit. The system did, and of course UAF did as part of the system, and said if you were vaccinated, you didn’t have to wear a mask on University of Alaska Fairbanks owned and operated facilities. Now last week, the CDC changed that guidance, and so the University of Alaska system changed their guidance. We released today a new policy, or a revised policy for Fairbanks, that says that all of our campuses which of course are in Nome, and Billingham, and Bethel, and Kotzebue, as well as a number of other locations as well, that you do need to wear a mask or a face covering whether your vaccinated or not in all of our facilities - with some exceptions of course. If you’re in a single private room with the door closed, you don’t need to wear a face covering.”

These policy changes aside, White says the university will be conducting in-person classes. “Our goal throughout the summer was to return to in-person classes, and many of our faculty have planned for in-person classes. Of course we have a very well developed eCampus and online classes, and so the many courses and programs that people before the pandemic could get online or by distance will continue to do so. But we have been planning for in-person of course, and we are taking it day by day and learning, and listening to the science.”

Students will also be able to stay in the dorms and even have roommates if they so choose according to White. “Last year, throughout the pandemic we had single occupancy only. This year students were allowed to choose a double occupancy room if they wanted. There are also some single occupancy available. They were also allowed to select whether they wanted a roommate who was vaccinated. So students had lots of choices. UAF, in its main campus residence halls, we don’t have a vaccine mandate at this time. We evaluate that every day and look and decide whether it’s time for a vaccine mandate; but at this time, residents are not required to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine - but they will be required to have masks in common areas outside of their rooms.”

Along with mask mandates, White says COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to students who wish to be vaccinated. “We will have vaccination clinics on campus. All students and all individuals, we encourage to choose the vaccine and to come onto campus. Still wear masks, but we think the vaccine is an important way to continue to protect our own health and protect public health. To that end, we’ll have vaccines available for students when they come onto campus.”

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