General COVID-19 FAQs
What are the HR guidelines for Phase C operations?
How is the university determining what phase each location can operate in?
University leaders consider multiple factors when setting the phase for a location. Those factors include:
Regional alert levels established by the State of Alaska, which are based on the per capita number of cases in a given region and are an objective metric of pandemic conditions
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 the safety measures required by each phase.
Each phase offers guidance regarding on-site operations such as travel, academics, on-campus housing, and mass gatherings and events, as well as guidance for workplace conditions, including research sites and laboratories. Each university will provide detailed information about operations at their campuses and sites.
What is the difference between testing and screening?
Testing refers to a medical examination using swabs or other collection process and sending the sample for analysis to determine whether a person has COVID-19. Screening involves temperature scans and some basic questions, often done at the entrance to buildings, to determine whether someone has symptoms of COVID-19 and might need testing. Both are tools used to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Why is the university’s status more restrictive than the state mandates?
The university has some additional risk factors that don’t exist broadly in Alaska’s communities. Specifically, we have group housing, mass gatherings, lots of travel and a large population of young adults, who are more likely to be asymptomatic. A more conservative approach helps keep our university and surrounding communities safer.
Why is my campus at a more restrictive phase than other campuses in the UA system?
Our universities operate in more than 16 locations. Conditions, such as the number of cases, level of transmission, health care system capacity and local mandates, can vary widely in those communities. Under the UA on-site operations plan, universities have the flexibility to put additional restrictions and safety measures in place, if needed, to ensure safe operation.
Masks / face coverings
Am I required to wear a face covering in university buildings?
If I just got vaccinated can I stop wearing a face covering on campus?
If I’m unable to get vaccinated due to medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs, do I still have to wear a mask?
If you are an employee or contractor who is unable to get vaccinated due to medical reasons or sincerely held religious beliefs, contact UA Human Resources at email@example.com or 907-450-8200 to request a reasonable accommodation. The reasonable accommodation may include solutions such as wearing a mask or other protective equipment, or working in a physically distanced space. If you are a student, contact the dean of students’ office at UAA and UAS or the Center for Student Rights and Responsibilities at UAF. If you are unsure who to contact with masking concerns, you can use the UA Confidential Hotline.
How will the university be enforcing the mask policy?
If we become aware of an employee, student or contractor who is refusing to wear a mask or appropriate face covering, they may be subject to disciplinary action. If the individual is a visitor or volunteer, they may be asked to leave campus.
Travel / community restrictions
The CDC and State of Alaska have updated quarantine guidance. Does that mean I don’t have to quarantine for 14 days anymore?
The university has also updated its campus entry restrictions to match the new guidance, however quarantine length will vary by campus. Most parts of the university are still requiring a 14-day quarantine. You can find more information about quarantine requirements on the UA COVID-19 guidance page.
Do I still have to quarantine for 14 days if I travel outside Alaska?
No, as long as you test negative for COVID 19. Alaska State Health Order 6 requires travelers from outside Alaska to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival or obtain one at the airport. With a negative test, you are allowed to strict social distance for 5 days and then resume normal activities. If you choose not to take a test, and are an Alaska resident, you are required to quarantine for 14 days. There is not a “no-test” option for non-residents.
Please review the university’s travel guidance and campus entry restrictions for more information about the actions you need to take when returning from travel outside Alaska. In general, though, your access to university facilities will be limited for five days after travel from outside Alaska. The UA activities guidance page has information about what is allowed during strict social distancing.
Do I need to self-quarantine when returning from in-state travel?
Not at this time. However, the state is currently reviewing its guidelines for in-state travel and may impose additional restrictions soon.
If someone in my home has traveled outside Alaska, do I need to self-quarantine?
No. However, if you have close contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, or with someone who is COVID-19 symptomatic and under investigation by public health authorities, you should self-quarantine. For more information about what to do in a variety of COVID-19 situations, visit the university’s COVID-19 scenarios page.
If someone from outside Alaska comes to visit and is staying in my home under a quarantine or strict social distancing mandate, do I need to quarantine/practice strict social distancing too?
According to the State of Alaska, your visitor should stay 6 feet away from others in the household and clean surfaces they touch frequently. Your visitor should follow the State of Alaska guidelines for COVID-19 testing and social distancing. You, as the host of this visitor, are not under quarantine. However, you should avoid unnecessary contact with others outside the household and make sure you follow safety precautions like wearing a mask in public, following physical distancing recommendations and washing your hands frequently. If your visitor develops symptoms or tests positive, they would need to immediately isolate and you would need to quarantine and not come to campus. See the campus entry guidelines for more information.
Can I travel now that restrictions are loosening?
Do I need to wear a mask if I am going to a large gathering on campus?
If I have already applied, what are my next steps?
Schedule a virtual meeting with an admissions counselor:
UAA: Call 907-786-1480
UAF: Call or text 907-474-7500
UAS: Call 907-796-6100
Will there be in-person classes this spring?
Like the fall semester, we anticipate that there will be some in-person classes and some delivered via distance. Our goal is to offer as many in-person courses as we safely can. There will continue to be increased safety measures in place, such as masking and physical distancing requirements, additional cleaning, fewer students in classrooms or staggered schedules.
What if students miss class because they have to self-quarantine?
Students won’t be penalized academically if they have to self-quarantine. The university will offer flexible academic adjustments and support to students who have to self-quarantine.
Do my approved accommodations through the disability services office apply to distance delivery courses?
Yes. Students approved for accommodations through disability services receive those accommodations regardless of the delivery method of their courses. However, specific accommodations may not transition equitably to a distance delivery format. Students having difficulty accessing course content due to a distance delivery format should contact the disability services office at firstname.lastname@example.org (UAA), email@example.com (UAF), or firstname.lastname@example.org (UAS).
I don’t have accommodations for in-person courses but may need them for distance delivery courses. Can I register with disability services if I have not already?
Yes. We understand that some students with disabilities may have elected to not register their disability previously with disability services, and may wish to do so at this time. Contact Disability Services at email@example.com (UAA), firstname.lastname@example.org (UAF), or email@example.com (UAS).
Will it affect my UA Scholars award or Alaska Performance Scholarship if I don’t complete all my credits?
It could. While there may be some provisions for appeals, students who are concerned should get in touch with the financial aid office at their university to talk about options.
What resources are available to help faculty members teach online?
Can I continue to come to my office and use university computers and internet to deliver my classes?
Yes. If you are a faculty member who needs to access university facilities in order to deliver distance-delivery courses, you may do so, provided you are not required to stay at home according to university community restrictions.
Will I still be expected to hold office hours?
Faculty members should not hold in-person office hours, however you should use alternate options, such as phone calls, Google Hangouts or Zoom meetings to meet one-on-one with your students.
What types of grading options are there for faculty to use?
Each university has a different process for deferred (DF) vs, incomplete (I) grades. UAF currently uses DF for graduate classes and some undergraduate classes. UAA and UAS do not generally use DF, and will be developing guidelines for incomplete classes. For both DF and I grades, faculty will need to develop an academic plan for course completion. A DF changes to a W after two years if the course is not complete, whereas an I changes to an F after one year.
As an adjunct, can I work/teach from home?
Yes. If working from home is an option, it is highly encouraged. Work with your dean or director to create a plan.
Are employees allowed to work from home? What about student and temporary employees?
When should I go back to working on site?
You will hear from your supervisor if you should return to working on site.
Why is a telework agreement being required?
The university has always required a telework agreement if an employee is working remotely. That requirement was suspended during the height of the pandemic. Now that more people are transitioning back to on-site work, we are working to make sure that all employee information is up to date.
Does a telework agreement work for hybrid work arrangements? If so, how does that look?
Yes, hybrid work arrangement is available on the telework agreement. The employee would provide their work schedule on the telework agreement.
Is there a deadline for implementing a telework agreement?
No, there is no deadline to submit a telework agreement.
Do faculty members also need a telework agreement if they are teaching and holding office hours remotely?
Yes. If you are a university employee and are working remotely, you need to have an approved telework agreement.
Do I need to complete another telework agreement if I already have one in place?
No. If you currently have a telework agreement, you do not have to submit a “new” telework agreement during the operational phase transitions. Once the post-COVID workplace project is complete in fall 2021, there will be a new telework agreement so you will need to complete one at that time. If you need to cancel a telework agreement, complete the telework agreement cancellation form.
What is the process for completing a telework agreement during operational phase transitions? Do I need to submit a new telework agreement if my schedule changes?
If you are working remotely, you will need to complete a telework agreement. You only need to complete a new telework agreement if you change jobs and are still working remotely, if your supervisor changes or if your alternate work location changes. If you need to cancel the telework agreement, complete the telework agreement cancellation form.
If an employee is working from home due to COVID-19 policies, will the university pay for their internet, phone, etc.?
Because employees now have the option to work on site, the university's internet connectivity allowance will expire on Aug. 28, 2021.
What resources are available to help employees who need to work from home during self-quarantine or reduction in on-site operations?
The virtual campus website has support resources and guidance for setting up temporary remote work arrangements with clarity and confidence, including links and instructions for setting up a virtual private network (VPN) to connect remotely to university restricted networked resources, as well as communication and networking tools and other resources.
If a new or current employee has to be out of state due to COVID-19-related restrictions or obligations, is out-of-state remote work allowed?
Yes. Human Resources has developed a streamlined approval process for work outside Alaska related to COVID-19. Employees should work with their supervisor and HR coordinator to ensure that all contact information, telework agreements, and tax forms are submitted properly, and promptly communicate any changes in location or out-of-state status. Supervisors should note that departments will be responsible for paying any additional taxes, fees, or consultant costs applicable to the employee’s work outside the state of Alaska. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are my COVID-19 leave options and when do I use the different types of leave (e.g. quarantine, travel, isolation)?
COVID Leave Types
When did the COVID-related ESL leave benefits expire?
As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the COVID-related leave benefits were available through September 30, 2021.
What is the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and how does it apply to the university's COVID-related benefits?
Does the university still allow the use of COVID-19 administrative leave?
We will still use COVID-19 administrative leave to cover an employee who is getting a COVID vaccination or recovering from reactions from the vaccine, and in some quarantine situations when an exposure was due to work or work-related travel.
Can I still use administrative leave for child care?
No. The use of administrative leave was modified April 1, 2020 due to the FFCRA.
I would like to donate sick leave to individuals that do not have sick leave or other leave to use for COVID-19 incidents. Is that possible?
At this time, there are no changes to the Leave Share Program as outlined in Board of Regents sick leave regulations (R04.06.130.)
How do I track my hours for working from home, sick leave or administrative leave?
If an employee is able to perform job functions from their home, then supervisors should be flexible and use regular earnings codes. Employees who are COVID positive, have symptoms or are caring for sick family members use sick leave as they would for any illness. Employees in quarantine for a non-work related exposure should use annual leave. For more scenarios see the leave options section above. If you have any questions please contact HR at email@example.com, 907-450-8200.
Does the UA health plan cover COVID-19 testing?
Yes. Premera is waiving cost shares such as deductibles and coinsurance for testing for the novel coronavirus. In addition, they encourage getting a flu shot to prevent the seasonal flu which is actively circulating in Alaska. A flu shot is also considered a preventive procedure and covered 100 percent with no cost to the employee or covered dependents. At this time only a medical professional can order a test for the novel coronavirus.
Part of my job is to handle mail and packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, Fedex, UPS, and other mail delivery services? Is that safe?
The risk of handling a package or mail is minimal. The coronavirus does not survive well or for very long on these surfaces. Wearing gloves is an option. Handwashing is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself.
More information can be found here:
What is a furlough?
A furlough is a temporary unpaid leave or a temporary reduction in pay. A furlough is not the same as a layoff. An employee who is laid off is no longer employed by the university. An employee who is furloughed is still employed and can return to their job at the conclusion of the furlough.
Why is the university allowing furloughs?
Like many organizations and businesses, the restrictions that have come about during the COVID-19 pandemic are having an adverse effect on university finances. Furloughs are a tool that chancellors can use to help mitigate those effects.
What would a furlough “look” like?
Furloughs would likely vary based on employee type and work available. More details will be shared closer to the effective date.
Who may be affected by COVID-19 furloughs?
COVID-19 furloughs are intended to be used when employees have no work or less work to do because of the COVID-19 response, or they are unable to work remotely. Your supervisor will notify you about specific furlough details.
How much notice will I get if I am furloughed?
Employees who are being furloughed due to COVID-19 will have 30 days of notice.
How long will the furloughs last?
At this point, that is unknown. The COVID-19 situation changes frequently. We will review each furlough situation periodically to determine whether changes should be made.
Will I be eligible for unemployment while I am furloughed?
The university doesn’t make determinations about unemployment eligibility. However, according to the Alaska COVID-19 unemployment website, employees are not required to sever the relationship with their employer in order to be eligible. Visit https://labor.alaska.gov/unemployment/COVID-19.htm for more information.
Will I and my family still have university health insurance during the furlough?
The university will cover the cost of COVID-19 furloughed employees’ current health insurance coverage through at least the end of the fiscal year.
Will regular benefited employees who are now on 100% furlough (and will remain so for the foreseeable future) still be able to use the education benefit/tuition waiver?
Yes. While on furlough, you are still a university employee and eligible to use those benefits.
Can I come to campus to access wifi for my distance delivery courses?
Yes. Please make sure you practice social distancing while on campus. We recommend wearing a face covering in public spaces and where social distancing isn’t possible.
What equipment is available for students and faculty and how is that equipment being distributed?
UA has acquired a limited number of MiFi (cellular hotspots) and Chromebooks for UA faculty, students and employees who need to work or study remotely. Other resources include headsets, cameras and other tools for remote work. OIT also provides a virtual desktop service that can be used remotely via https://vdi.alaska.edu from various devices for accessing programs and computing resources that may not be available on your home computer or mobile device. Any student or employee who has equipment or technology needs should contact their local IT help desk immediately to request equipment, assistance, and technology support.
Are telecommunications companies offering any discounts to students or employees who need internet access as a result of moving to alternative delivery of courses?
Zoom only allows local calls, what can I do to provide a toll-free call-in option for out-of-state students?
How fast does my internet need to be in order to teach or take classes online?
The speed you will need depends on what you are trying to do online, but here are a few guidelines:
For screen sharing only (no video thumbnail): 50-75kbps
For screen sharing with video thumbnail: 50-150kbps
For audio VoiP: 60-80kbps
For Zoom phone: 60-100kbps
I need to work from home, how do I connect to shared servers and other network resources?
You will need to install a virtual private network, or VPN, on your computer in order to connect to UA networks. Additionally, you can use Google Chrome Remote Desktop or Virtual Desktop options. How-tos and installation links are available on the UA virtual campus site.
How do I forward calls and access voicemail when working from home?
reporting COVID-19 cases
Why is the university asking people to report COVID-19 status if they have been in university facilities 48 hours prior to testing positive for COVID-19, having symptoms of COVID-19 or being identified by public health officials as a person under investigation?
The university has a legal responsibility to members of the UA community to maintain a safe workplace. That includes warning others who may have been affected by the presence of COVID-19 in the workplace, and to clean work, housing, and other areas. We cannot do those things if we do not have information.
Do I need to share information with the university if I have not been in a university facility 48 hours prior to testing positive, having symptoms or becoming a person under investigation?
No. In that situation, you are not required to disclose information to the university.
What are the university’s legal responsibilities regarding workplace safety in university facilities?
OSHA guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 states, in part:
Prompt identification and isolation of potentially infectious individuals is a critical step in protecting workers, customers, visitors and others at a worksite.
Employers should inform and encourage employees to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect possible exposure.
Employers should develop policies and procedures for employees to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Employers are also required to keep records that document compliance with OSHA guidance specific to COVID-19.
What will the university do once it knows about COVID-19 in its facilities/operations?
In the case of a pandemic like COVID-19, the CDC provides guidance. That includes identifying and removing symptomatic individuals and immediately sending them home, providing warnings to potentially exposed individuals who were in close contact, and thorough cleaning of impacted facilities in accordance with CDC guidance. Warnings will not identify the ill person, though in some situations their identity may be apparent. Given that there is community spread of COVID-19, broad warnings will be the exception rather than the rule.
Supervisors are not medically trained. Why are we asking them to do public health's job?
We are complying with OSHA rules and CDC standards of care for employers to ensure the safety of our students, employees and the community. We are required to remove ill individuals from our facilities, to ask specific questions and to respond based on the information we receive. The ability to diagnose COVID-19, or distinguish it from other illnesses, is not required.
Does UA's guidance require that we follow up with all people who might have been in contact with an employee who has COVID-19?
No. The university is only required to inform people with whom the employee came in contact with at university facilities or while they were doing work for the university within 48 hours prior to reporting symptoms. Contacts outside the university setting or outside the 48-hour time period would be the purview of public health authorities.
Does UA's guidance require that we ask about COVID-19 status of individuals where that information has no bearing on UA's responsibilities regarding safety?
No. While assumptions can be misleading, if it is clear that an individual has not been present in UA facilities or interacting with 3rd parties on UA business within the 48 hours prior to reported symptoms, no inquiry is required or allowed. Conversely, if an employee may have had contacts during that timeframe, supervisors must follow up.
Why are we using the UA COVID-19 Employee Status tool?
The tool will help the university fulfill its legal requirements and will allow incident managers to see trends in our employee populations. That information will help guide our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is it legal to ask personal health questions?
Yes, during a pandemic, when an ill person is or has been in facilities in the 48 hours prior to symptoms. The collection of COVID-19-related information is recommended by the CDC during a pandemic and is required under OSHA rules. Specific EEOC guidance related to the pandemic allows employers to ask sick employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 if they have been present in the workplace.
How is personal health information being kept secure?
Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA. Data gathered through the UA Tracking tool is stored in an internally-hosted, secure database managed by UAS IT Services. This is employment-related medical information which may be disclosed to public health, and when de-identified, may be used for legitimate employment related actions, including warnings and cleanings.
About Coronavirus / COVID-19
Is there an effective outpatient treatment for COVID-19?
Yes, the FDA has authorized the use of monoclonal antibody treatments for people 12 years old and older who are at high risk for serious COVID-19 illness. If you test positive for COVID-19, talk to your health care provider about whether this treatment is right for you. Note that these treatments need to take place as soon as possible after diagnosis, so if you have symptoms of COVID-19 don’t delay in getting tested or in contacting your health care provider. The state has a fact sheet with more information about these treatments.
What should I do if I have close contact with someone who has COVID-19?
If you are a close contact of or live with someone who has COVID-19, your next steps will depend on whether or not you are fully vaccinated. Please visit the COVID-19 scenarios page to find more information about what you should do.
How long might I be in quarantine and/or isolation?
If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and then test positive, you could be in quarantine and isolation for 24 days or even longer, depending on how long it takes you to recover. If you are in quarantine for 14 days and test positive for COVID-19 on Day 14, you would need to stay home in isolation for at least another 10 days, maybe longer. You can find more information about length of quarantine in different scenarios on the CDC’s “When to Quarantine” page.
What is the difference between “quarantine” and “isolation?”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the term “isolation” refers to separating people who are sick from people who are not sick. The term “quarantine” refers to separating and restricting the movement of people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing means putting space between yourself and other people. It includes things like staying home and limiting trips to stores or businesses, avoiding large gatherings of people, and practicing physical distancing, which means staying at least six feet away from people who are not part of your household. The CDC has good information about how to protect yourself.
Should I get tested for COVID-19?
What is novel coronavirus and/or COVID-19?
Novel coronavirus is a virus that was first detected in China in December 2019. There are four well-known strains of coronavirus that circulate in the human population; however, this one is new, hence the use of the term “novel.” COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by this novel coronavirus.
How can I protect myself from this and other respiratory illnesses?
Prevention measures for COVID-19 are the same as those for other respiratory illnesses such as the flu or the common cold:
Wash hands often with soap and water; if not available, use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid contact with people who are sick.
If you’re sick, stay home and avoid close contact with others, and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
In addition, wearing cloth face coverings in public and staying six feet away from people who are not part of your household can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
How does the university manage outbreaks of communicable diseases like COVID-19?
While every situation is different, the university’s emergency operations plans outline our expected response to a communicable disease outbreak. The university has a team of professionals who are trained to manage emergencies. We take guidance from health experts at the federal, state and local levels to manage an outbreak at our universities and care for our employees and students. We use a variety of resources, including websites, direct emails and printed materials to keep people informed during emergency and crisis situations.
What should I do if I am feeling anxious about COVID-19?
We understand that some community members are concerned. If you would like to talk with someone, support is available to employees through our health plan:
Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program - offers counseling, referrals and other resources. These services are completely confidential and can be easily accessed by calling the toll-free Helpline at (888) 993-7650 or logging on to the Deer Oaks website at deeroakseap.com.
Talkspace - Premera now offers an online service that connects UA employees to therapists and psychiatrists by video and text for about the same costs, subject to your deductible and coinsurance, as an in-person visit. Talkspace is a confidential, secure, online option for face-to-face therapy. It connects you to more than 4,000 licensed therapists by video and text messaging regardless of date, location, or time of day.
Therapy with a local provider - This option for personalized face-to-face counseling and therapy is suitable for more long-term or clinical needs, including medication management, and is subject to your health plan’s deductible and out-of pocket costs. Find an in-network provider by logging in to Premera.com and select 'Find A Doctor', then browse the directory, choose 'Medical Care' and then 'Behavioral/Mental Health'. This gives you the most current listing of network providers in your area.
Students are encouraged to reach out to campus Health & Counseling:
What if I have more questions about novel coronavirus/COVID-19. Is there someone I can call to get additional general information?
Yes, for general questions about COVID-19, you can call 2-1-1, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. - noon and 1 - 6 p.m. The 2-1-1 information referral specialists are currently equipped to take and triage such calls, and to refer callers to appropriate resources. For Alaskans who live in areas where 2-1-1 cannot be accessed, please call 800-478-2221.
Can I get leave to care for my child because their school or daycare is closed?
Yes. The FFCRA provides for emergency sick leave and expanded family medical leave for employees to care for a child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.