USF News

Returning after Hurricane Irma: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated 9/15/17, 3:30 p.m.

The University of South Florida and the Tampa Bay area are fortunate that Hurricane Irma passed through the Tampa Bay region in a weakened state and did not inflict as much damage as we had initially anticipated. If you took shelter off campus, out of state or even out of the country, the imminent danger once posed to USF in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee has passed.  The same may not be true in other parts of the state or country where our students, faculty, and staff took shelter, so please be cautious as you make plans to return to Tampa Bay

Safety inspections of all buildings on campus have been completed. The damage to the USF Tampa and USF St. Petersburg campuses was minimal. The University of South Florida Tampa and University of South Florida St. Petersburg reopened on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017.  A NORMAL class schedule resumed on Thursday, September 14th. 

USF Sarasota-Manatee will resume classes and return to normal business operations on Monday, September 18. Any necessary adjustments to the USF System class schedule for Fall 2017 will be communicated in the coming days.

Students who are unable to return for classes on Monday because of a storm-related hardship should notify their instructors as soon as possible. Employees unable to return to work because of a storm-related hardship should notify their supervisor as soon as possible. Faculty members and supervisors are asked to be patient and understanding with their students and staff during these unique circumstances.Updates regarding the opening of campus will be made at www.usfsm.edu.

The University of South Florida System is a strong community.  People are returning to their homes, picking up debris, and moving forward.  There will, of course, be further challenges ahead, so in anticipation of your questions, you may find the following answers useful. 

HOW DID THE UNIVERSITY DECIDE TO RESUME OPERATIONS ON THIS TIMELINE?

In an abundance of caution, university leadership decided to close the campus through Tuesday, September 12th, when a final assessment of campus facilities was completed. Having passed initial inspection, President Genshaft consulted with senior leadership and determined that USF Tampa and USF St. Petersburg reopen for business on Wednesday, September 13th. 

WHEN SHOULD WE RETURN TO CAMPUS?

All staff were asked to return to work on Wednesday, September 13th.  Students should return and resume classes on Thursday, September 14th. However, please only return when it is safe to do so.

USF Sarasota-Manatee students who are enrolled in classes (in-person or online) at USF Tampa or USF St. Petersburg should follow guidance from their instructors. Students should assume these classes resumed on Thursday September 14th. USF Sarasota-Manatee will resume classes and return to normal business operations on Monday, September 18.

WHAT IF I AM UNABLE TO RETURN TO CAMPUS ON THIS TIMELINE?

University officials appreciate the fact that many people left Tampa Bay to seek shelter from the storm in a variety of places both in and out of Florida.  Given the size of the storm, it is likely that some faculty, staff, and students will find it difficult to return to Tampa, St. Petersburg or Sarasota-Manatee right away.  Everyone needs to be understanding and flexible, during the week ahead. Please return to Tampa Bay when it is safe to do so.  If students are unable to return to class this week, they should notify their instructors as soon as possible.

Employees who are unable to return to work through Friday, September 15th, will not be charged annual leave. However, please inform your immediate supervisor of your situation so they can plan accordingly.  We ask all supervisors to be understanding of the challenges confronting some members of the USF Family.

WHAT IF I AM A MEMBER OF THE FLORIDA NATIONAL GUARD?

Last week, Governor Scott activated the Florida National Guard to assist state and local law enforcement and first responders. Florida needs these and other volunteers more than ever as they work side by side to execute emergency response actions across the state, including life-saving search and rescue missions. In the coming days, supervisors are asked to be particularly mindful of USF System students, faculty and staff who are serving in such capacities and we will do everything possible to accommodate the needs of these men and women who put others before themselves in times of crisis.

WHAT IF I MISSED (OR WILL MISS) AN ACADEMIC ASSIGNMENT (A QUIZ, EXAM, PAPER, ETC.)?

No assignments will be due and no quizzes, tests or examinations administered until next week. We expect instructors to treat students on a case by case basis and offer make-up dates or alternative assignments as reasonable and appropriate. In the case of new class material being delivered on Thursday and/or Friday, instructors are asked to provide students ample and additional opportunity to review new material beginning the week of September 18th. 

DOES THIS APPLY TO ON-LINE AS WELL AS IN-CLASS COURSES?

Yes, even those students enrolled in on-line classes have had to endure stress, anxiety, and possible displacement due to the storm, so the expected dates of all due assignments last week and this week need to be adjusted without penalty.  

WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT CLASS SCHEDULING FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEMESTER?

At this point, no decisions have been made about class scheduling for the rest of the semester. Instructors will obviously have to adjust their class schedules and assignments. 

WHAT DO I DO IF MY OFF-CAMPUS APARTMENT OR HOME SUSTAINED DAMAGE AND IS UNINHABITABLE? 

Please secure safe living conditions as soon as possible. Your safety is our top priority.  

WILL PREVIOUSLY PLANNED UNIVERSITY EVENTS (LIKE LECTURES AND SPORTING EVENTS) CONTINUE IN THE COMING DAYS AS SCHEDULED?

Each university event will be handled on a case by case basis.  In many cases, events will either have to be rescheduled or cancelled.  The USF football game against Illinois will go on as scheduled at Raymond James Stadium this Friday, September 15th.

ARE ALL CAMPUS AMENITIES OPEN? 

The Residence Halls at USF Tampa have been and will remain open. Students can return to their residence halls as soon as it is convenient. Dining facilities across the USF Tampa campus resumed full service on Thursday. Students returned to residence halls at USF St. Petersburg beginning Wednesday. To the extent possible, we also expect other facilities to come back on line as soon as possible.  The USF Library, Campus Recreation Center, the Bookstore, Student Health Services, Marshall Student Center, and the Counseling Center are open.

For those members of the USF System community who have been without power and/or water, you can take hot showers in the USF Tampa Recreation Center throughout the coming days. Please bring a current USF ID (along with towels, soap/shampoo, and a lock if you are able).

HOW ABOUT OFF-CAMPUS?  ARE GAS STATIONS OPEN? 

If you are planning to drive back to campus from a distant location, you might want to make use of the gasbuddy.com application. As you are driving, it will identify what stations on your route have gas.  We anticipate that off-campus services, like grocery stores, will re-open very soon.

WHAT DO I DO IF I SHOW UP FOR CLASS AND MY PROFESSOR DOES NOT? 

You should assume that the professor was unable to make it to that class but have plans to return at the next regularly scheduled class time.

THIS HAS BEEN VERY STRESSFUL. I’M JUST NOT READY TO TURN MY ATTENTION TO MY STUDIES AGAIN. HOW DO I COPE WITH THE STRESS AFTER IRMA?

Natural disasters such as Irma create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for those directly and indirectly affected. In the following days and weeks, you may begin to have some of these common reactions: disbelief and shock, fear and anxiety about the future, disorientation, anger, sadness, apathy, and emotional numbing. Please don’t try to cope alone.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  For more information go to: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/coping-stress-natural-disasters

If you are a student and would like to speak with one of our counselors, please call the USF Counseling Center at 813-974-2831.  Faculty and staff should consult the Employee Assistance Program, http://usfweb2.usf.edu/human-resources/eap/, or call toll-free, 1-800-327-7451, for free, confidential counseling services.

WHERE CAN I OR MY FAMILY GET REGULAR UPDATES AS USF TAMPA, USF ST. PETERSBURG and USF SARASOTA-Manatee RAMPS BACK UP?

Please check the USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee main pages for regular updates. 

__________________________________

For past updates regarding this storm, please visit USF News