The University of Alaska will extend its spring break by one week in order to take the remaining academic year online in response to coronavirus, UA President Jim Johnsen said in a letter to the university community today.
“While there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska, prevention is critical,” Johnsen said in the letter. “In an effort to do everything we can to help keep our university communities safe and help slow the spread of the coronavirus we have convened the University’s Incident Management Team and—after consultation with the chair of the Board of Regents, the chancellors, union and governance leaders—I have determined that the following steps are in the best interest of our communities.”
The response includes the extension of spring break until March 23 when all courses will be moved online or other distance-delivery methods “potentially for the rest of the semester.” It also calls for students to stay home, allowing them temporary access to residence halls to get personal items and study materials. Exemptions to both rules can be made on a case-by-case basis, the letter explains.
The letter also cancels all university-hosted events or gatherings of more than 25 people and expands existing travel restrictions.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed an emergency health disaster declaration on Wednesday, conceding that “It’s going to be in Alaska and it’s probably here now.”
The state has seen several large events and conventions be canceled as concern over coronavirus has grown, including the Alaska Republican Party’s Juneau convention, and the state high school basketball tournament that was scheduled to begin on March 15 has been indefinitely postponed.
Several large universities have already taken their classes online.
You can find Johnsen’s letter and additional up-to-date information on the university’s response here.