6/16/20 Message to Students
June 16, 2020
From Anupma Prakash, provost and executive vice chancellor
Dear UAF students:
As we prepare for fall semester, I am writing to share details about our academic planning. First, let me assure you that, even though the coming semester may look different, all UAF students can expect the same excellent education that we have always provided. Also be assured that we have the safety of our students, faculty and staff in mind as the UAF community works together to welcome you to our campuses in the fall.
As we plan for the fall semester and beyond, we are being mindful of trends in our community and of our responsibility to provide as safe an environment as possible. Our approach to planning is guided by a phased operations plan established by the University of Alaska system that takes into account community conditions and spells out the safety measures that we will use, including limits on group size, social distancing and other protective measures.
Fall calendar and schedule
UAF’s fall semester will begin on Monday, Aug. 24, as published in the 2020-2021 academic calendar. We will offer a mixture of in-person, distance and hybrid courses. We will hold face-to-face classes to the extent that we are able to safely accommodate students in our classrooms while following state mandates and health guidelines.
Our fall class schedule will be modified with three primary considerations in mind. First, we will follow guidance from the state on physical distancing in order to maintain a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff. Second, we will ensure that our decisions do not delay your ability to complete your degree. Finally, for students planning to attend or reside on one of UAF’s campuses, we want to make as much learning available to you in person while ensuring that we use our classroom space with the required reduced capacity.
With that context we will revise the fall class schedule in order to (1) maintain a full array of general education, major, minor and elective courses both in person and partly or fully online; (2) identify which courses must be offered in person and those that can be offered at a distance; and (3) minimize the amount of dropping and adding that students will need to do. We will look at available classrooms and make adjustments where necessary to maintain gathering size limitations issued by the state. We will do what is necessary to protect the health and safety of UAF students, faculty and staff.
Here are some guidelines about what classes will be offered in person:
- We will prioritize certain types of classes for face-to-face instruction, such as classes that require hands-on instruction like technical training, labs, art, music and theater.
- Individual classes may be rescheduled for different times or classrooms; however, instruction will begin and end according to our established academic calendar. Class time blocks will not change.
- Large lecture sections will be moved to an online modality. Smaller lab or recitation sections may be accommodated on campus in conjunction with the online lecture portion of the class.
- There will not be enough classroom space for all classes to be held in person. Small lecture classes will be offered online if space on campus is not available.
- All classes are subject to future adjustments in response to directives or guidelines issued by the university or the state.
Priority will be given to classes that contribute to on-time graduation for students in degree-seeking programs. We will also attempt to disrupt students’ schedules as little as possible and intend to offer all listed classes either in person or by distance. Each year, some listed classes get canceled due to very low enrollment. Students should enroll for the classes as soon as possible. The class schedule is already online. Your faculty, advisors and deans are working hard to finalize the modality of individual class offerings over the next two weeks, and are also preparing to ensure that they are prepared to transition from in-person to distance delivery and vice-versa, should there be changing needs due to COVID-19. In-person classes might have to change to distance delivery, partly or fully, depending on space limitations and other considerations, but we will do everything we can to offer the best experience possible.
New Student Orientation
New Student Orientation will utilize a hybrid of limited in-person events with a strong emphasis on virtual sessions so that all students can participate and connect with fellow students, staff and faculty as they are welcomed to the UAF community. The schedule and delivery methods for New Student Orientation are under revision to accommodate all students who may face varying protocols upon arriving on campus. New students will receive communication with specific details concerning these matters.
Student support offices and testing services will be available at the Troth Yeddha’ campus as well as UAF’s Community and Technical College and rural campuses located in Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue and Nome and community centers maintained through Interior Alaska Campus in Fairbanks. All services will be open and observing social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Students served by their local community campus should contact their local community campus for the most current information about campus operations, student support and testing services.
Because many students will be new to online and distance classes, UAF eCampus will also be expanding its student support services capacity. eCampus provides online support through early intervention, online orientation, academic advising, tech support and e-coaching as needed. UAF is prepared to assist you and support your academic needs whether you are taking classes in person, online or both.
For some essential exams, UAF eCampus and CTC testing centers will provide socially distanced and scheduled proctoring services with expectations that participants wear protective masks while in the exam center. National testing that occurs on campus (SAT and ACT) will be paused temporarily until the testing companies determine a plan moving forward. Exam Services will continue to provide socially distanced and scheduled non-UAF course proctoring (CLEP, State of Alaska, credit-by-exam, etc.).
UAF is prepared to welcome students back on campus this fall in a coordinated manner that prioritizes student and employee health and well-being. The Department of Residence Life in Fairbanks and housing facilities in Bethel are hard at work identifying housing needs. Safety is a top priority. We currently have a phased plan that will guide operations and limits high-density housing for our students. We will assign one person per room in Moore, Bartlett, Skarland, McIntosh, Wickersham and Sackett halls.
Additional housing details are being worked out and will be communicated with students when they become available. We look forward to seeing many returning and new faces this upcoming semester back on campus and look forward to welcoming you here.
Traveling to Fairbanks
The university will be issuing new travel, quarantine and testing guidance soon. That information will be found on the UA policy guidance webpage. In addition, the State of Alaska has issued travel mandates for intrastate, interstate and international travel. Students traveling from outside Alaska should read the policies before traveling to ensure they are up to date with the latest restrictions. Please check these often as they may change.
UAF has canceled outbound international programs for fall 2020 due to the variety of travel restrictions in place to enter host countries for foreigners. Some virtual exchange opportunities are available. Where possible, students can defer their placements to a future term. UAF will continue to support domestic National Student Exchange placements.
Inbound international students
Our Office of International Programs and Initiatives continues to issue immigration documentation for new international students to begin their academic program at UAF this fall. We know that international students have not been able to schedule visa interviews due to the current suspension of routine visa services at U.S. consulates. We are closely monitoring Department of Homeland Security policy guidance and will continue to directly communicate with updates to both new and returning international students.
I know that the past months have been challenging and uncertain, and I applaud your resiliency. I am excited to welcome you to campus. UAF is a supportive, caring community, and together we will make the fall 2020 semester a great success.