University of Alaska Fairbanks requests a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for staff and students

UA interim president says decision will be made within 2 weeks
A view of University of Alaska campus from the air.
A view of University of Alaska campus from the air.(KTVF)
Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:35 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Alaska, and one of the areas seeing large case counts is Fairbanks. On Thursday, University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Dan White asked University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney to consider approving a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all employees and in-person students across UAF campuses in Fairbanks, according to an email she sent to students and staff across the University of Alaska system on Friday.

On Thursday, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 1,270 new COVID-19 cases across the state along with 10 deaths of Alaska residents. Fairbanks North Star Borough has had more than 12,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March, and close to 1,200 in the last seven days, according to state data.

In the email sent out Friday, Pitney said White’s request was based on “formal requests for a vaccine requirement from faculty, staff and student governance groups”, along with the high case count and community spread of the virus in the Fairbanks area. The email stated White’s request was also based on the residential nature of UAF’s campus, and the high number of in-person classes and programs.

“I made this request after careful consideration and at the urging of all three of UAF’s governance groups,” White said in a prepared statement Friday. “In recent weeks, ASUAF, Faculty Senate and Staff Council have all formally requested a vaccine requirement. In-person learning and campus engagement is a vital part of college life. Adding vaccination to our layered approach is an important step in ensuring a vibrant in-person experience for our students.”

If White’s request is approved, the requirement would go into effect for the upcoming spring semester for non-residential, in-person students and could go into effect even sooner for University of Alaska Fairbanks employees.

Pitney says she’ll take White’s request into consideration and said students and staff should hear an update within the next two weeks.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Dan White’s name.

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