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As UAA campus reopens, mask mandate goes into effect

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:13 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After months of remote learning, the University of Alaska Anchorage is now open to all faculty, staff and students — and those returning are coming back to find an updated mask policy.

“There’s only so much connection you can have across a digital screen, on a computer, laptop, phone, being able to just walk up to somebody and saying, ‘Hey what’s up?’ is a feeling that I think we kind of took for granted, and right now that feeling is returning and it’s great,” said UAA Student Body President Tuan Graziano.

The campus officially opened back up on Monday, but fall classes don’t begin until Aug. 23. An updated mask policy is in effect, requiring people to wear a mask while indoors, but not requiring them to wear a mask while outdoors as long as they are socially distanced.

“I think it’s important to encourage, you know, safety, health in mind, follow the guidelines, right, we do this one step at a time, and that way we don’t have to start from step one all over again,” Graziano said.

Devin Hutchings and Cuckoo Gupta are both staff members and also taking classes to get their master’s degree at UAA. Monday was the first time the two classmates met in person.

“Yeah, she’s been my screen best friend all year long so this is a blast,” Hutchings said, lightheartedly laughing about the past year.

Both said they are excited to start in-person classes this fall.

“I know that everyone’s slightly Zoom exhausted, right, exhausted being on Zoom and Skype, and all of those, and so, very excited to have our students back,” Gupta said.

Hutchings said he was a little nervous about coming back to on-campus learning at first but feels better about it now.

“I was a little nervous coming back before we got the email letting us know that there was going to be a pretty structured policy, and now that that’s been set out and those expectations have been set I feel great and I’m excited to be here and be here safe.”

Similar mask-wearing rules are now in effect at all University of Alaska campuses.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell sent out this statement:

“These changes reflect new CDC guidance released this week and align with updated State of Alaska public health recommendations,” he said, later adding, “Working together, we’ll keep ourselves, each other and our campus communities safe.”

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