UAA prepares for return of students after winter break as COVID-19 surges across the country

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 9:41 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Winter break is coming to a close for the University of Alaska Anchorage, and next week students will return to class as the omicron variant continues to surge throughout the Lower 48.

In response to the rising case counts universities like Harvard, Princeton and Syracuse have pushed back the start of their spring semester while most University of California schools, Stanford and Northwestern University will start the spring semester remotely.

UAA said it will carry on with classes under the same restrictions as it did in the fall, but it’s keeping an eye out for the new COVID-19 variant as well as monitoring case counts.

“We’re also going to maintain basically what we did last semester, about 50% online and 50% in person,” said UAA Health and Safety Director Tim Edwards. “And so that’s kind of where we’re sitting right now, pretty much the same, you know, posture as we kind of went out of this. But we don’t know what omicron may look like case wise.”

The university will continue watching COVID-19 numbers in Alaska to see the omicron variant’s impact.

Face masks are still required on the UAA campus regardless of vaccination status, and COVID-19 vaccines are only required for those living on campus. There is rapid COVID-19 testing available at the student health and counseling center. Edwards added that they have at-home testing kits and they are in the process of purchasing more.

“We’re safe, we’ve done a lot of work in ventilation and all the other things that the CDC talks about,” Edwards said, touting the clean environment on campus. “And we’ve done everything in layers of mitigation. So it’s not just the mask — it’s masks, and ventilation, and cleaning, and hygiene and everything that you hear about.”

The UAA women’s basketball team announced on Wednesday it would be postponing upcoming games against Seattle Pacific on Thursday and Montana State Billings on Saturday due to health and safety protocols.

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