Returning to Campus

Academic Program Delivery

Promoting the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff and visitors remains the primary consideration in planning for academic continuity at USF in Fall 2020. A flexible hybrid academic model has been designed and adopted for delivery of both undergraduate and graduate classes in 2020. This is intended to maximize flexibility and to support a mix of academic delivery formats to meet diverse student needs with regard to access, timely progression, and graduation. The model includes a mix of:

  • Traditional face-to-face (F2F) instruction with physical distancing through reduced density, rotational attendance, and contingency plans to move online at any time,
  • A blended mode of delivery including live F2F, synchronous and/or asynchronous sessions, and
  • Quality online courses with the innovative use of active learning technologies (Note: USF, through Innovative Education, has emerged as a leader in the online space and has consistently delivered one third of all coursework in online and hybrid formats, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in recent years).

All instructors must be adaptable, flexible and prepared to transition to quality online delivery at any point during the Fall 2020 semester. Faculty members will be required to comply with University protocols for face-to face interactions, at all times, both inside and outside the classroom.

Students will not be required to register for F2F classes and those in “high risk” groups are provided access to coursework through a range of alternative delivery platforms and accommodations as appropriate and consistent with ADA and University guidelines. Faculty members in a “high risk” category shall be given priority to teach their courses online as a reasonable accommodation consistent with a Memorandum of Understanding with the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida re: Article 4 of the CBA:

“A bargaining unit member, or individual(s) with whom the bargaining unit member resides, whose age and/or underlying medical/health condition puts either of them at risk for death or severe medical/health complications should they contract COVID-19 during the Public Health Emergency, shall be given priority to teach their courses in an online format as a reasonable accommodation.” 

This accommodation may be granted with the explicit understanding by all parties that the faculty member will engage with instructional digital designers in USF Innovative Education for the preparation necessary to deliver a quality online educational experience.  Performance expectations exceed those associated with transition to remote instruction in Spring 2020.

Back-up instructional assignments are to be confirmed should they become necessary.  All members of the USF community, on all campuses, must accept personal responsibility for the well-being of themselves and others.

University space has been extensively mapped and evaluated in light of current CDC, state, and local physical distancing guidelines and a revised student capacity, by classroom and laboratory, has been established. Moreover, available instructional technology has been identified by instructional and student learning space. Deans and building supervisors will address and manage how each class section will provide sufficient time for sanitizing surfaces between classes and how to ensure appropriate physical distancing in hallways, elevators and stairwells upon entry and exit from classes. 

Certain classes are identified as high priority for F2F delivery due to specialized accreditation standards, access to equipment (e.g. upper division and graduate STEM labs), and/or the essential need for experiential learning (e.g. studios in the performing arts). In the case of F2F classes, reduced student density will adhere to CDC guidelines (at approximately 25-30% capacity for classrooms and 50% for labs). If a faculty member (with the approval of a school director or department chair) adopts a F2F rotation for class attendance/participation (e.g. every Monday or Wednesday attendance in a MW class), all class sections will be delivered synchronously and/or recorded and made available to all students enrolled in the class through password protected access.

Classes with 100 or more students will be required to move to a fully online format, and class sizes of 50-100 students will be strongly encouraged to move to an online delivery format. However, larger class sections may be divided into multiple smaller sections to facilitate expanded access to F2F or blended delivery depending upon concurrently available instruction space and added instructional resources.  Student Instructional and Learning Assistants will provide appropriate support for faculty members inside and outside the classroom.

Active student learning, engagement and academic success will be supported through out of class activities and student support services in F2F and/or virtual formats including but not limited to academic advising, financial aid, mental health counseling, “office hours” with faculty, small group study and tutoring, library, and career services, including activation of USF’s comprehensive digital communities initiative.

Guidance and Advice for Faculty Teaching in Fall 2020 will include, yet will not be limited to, the modified academic calendar, faculty and student responsibilities, public health considerations (inside and outside the classroom), class attendance and participation expectations, tips for optimizing instruction and student learning in alternative delivery formats, assessing student learning outcomes, the class syllabus, and available support for faculty, classrooms, and students. A similar set of Guidelines is being developed for distribution to USF students on all campuses.

In order to continue USF’s high academic performance expectations in the delivery of quality education and student learning, and to ensure compliance with standards and principles of SACSCOC and specialized accrediting agencies, instructional faculty will be provided expanded professional development opportunities to enhance their pedagogical skill set, ensure their familiarity with technology, tools and techniques, and to consider alternative methods for assessing student learning outcomes.

All student learning and final examinations will migrate to a quality online platform beginning November 28, 2020, and following Thanksgiving break, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 resulting from holiday-related travel. Residence halls, dining options, and student support services will remain open after Thanksgiving break for students who need access through the end of the fall semester.

The responsibility for college class schedules (across all campuses), mode of delivery, assuring academic quality, meeting student demand and access (to promote retention, progression, and timely graduation), faculty instructional assignment, and compliance with federal and state law, as well as state and university regulations, and policies, rests with each of the 13 college deans.

All students, faculty, and staff at USF must remain flexible as schedules and delivery modes may need to be adjusted at any point during the Fall 2020 semester. We cannot stress enough that this public health event is highly dynamic and requires adaptability from the broader university community.