University of Alaska extends spring break, implements new measures surrounding coronavirus outbreak

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The University of Alaska system has convened the university’s Incident Management Team and laid out steps to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. According to a letter sent to students and staff by UA President Jim Johnsen, the university is doing, “everything we can to help keep our university communities safe and help slow the spread of the coronavirus.”

The University of Alaska is taking precautionary measures including limiting in person classes and extending spring break, surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

The steps they list are:

- Starting March 23 and potentially for the rest of the semester, most UA courses will be offered using alternate delivery methods (online, audioconference or web-conference, etc.) rather than traditional classroom instruction. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the chancellors for clinical, lab, and other hands-on courses where “social distance” and other personal safety measures can be assured. In addition, we are working to address issues such as computer access and other student needs in ways that maintain social distance.

- We are extending spring break by one week for students in order to allow faculty time to prepare their courses for alternative delivery methods. That means there will be no classes between now and March 23. Employees should return to work unless affected by restrictions established in separate guidance.

- We are asking students living in residence halls to either stay at their permanent residences, if they have traveled there for spring break, or to make plans to return to their permanent or alternative residences by March 17. Temporary access to residence halls will be provided to access needed personal items and study materials. The universities will provide a process to request exceptions for students who have no other residence or who cannot travel.

- We are canceling all events and gatherings of 25 people or more between today and March 31. We will revisit the situation later this month and make a decision then regarding events for the rest of the spring semester.

- We are expanding the restrictions on university-related travel.

- We are planning extra steps to clean and sanitize university facilities.

- We are staying in communication with the U.S. Department of Education and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to ensure accreditation stays in place.

- We are expanding requirements for employees and others coming to campus to stay home/stay away after returning from travel to certain areas outside Alaska or if they have possible exposure to COVID-19.

The university will hold a press teleconference at 2 p.m. to discuss the changes.

This is a breaking story, we will continue to update it as more information becomes available.

View the full memo and list of changes HERE.

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