Returning to Campus

Concept of Operations & Phases (8/7)

The USF president has the authority to direct and coordinate a pandemic response and recovery operation. USF will implement multiple strategies across our campuses and departments to provide for the health and safety of faculty, staff and students. Some of these duties may be delegated to the COVID-19 Task Force charged with overseeing the development of policy and plans not previously addressed or implemented in response to an incident of this magnitude. This Task Force encompasses senior leadership from the university and works with appropriate departments to provide a measured and systematic approach to response and recovery activities. USF continues to maintain an all-hazards approach in the development and execution of programs, policies, plans and procedures in support of emergency operations. 


USF developed and will implement a 4-phased approach to promote a healthy and safe environment as the university reconstitutes normal operations that support faculty, staff and student return to campuses. These 4 phases provide flexibility and adaptability based on current and projected developments in COVID-19 trends. Each phase limits the number of individuals on campuses, while collecting data to determine next actions. 

Phase I

Phase I allows for up to 25% of staff returning to the campuses, based on space configuration, and allows additional critical functions to be performed beyond those allowed in the planning period while continuing to enforce strict protective measures to limit exposure of returning employees and reduce potential for community transmission. This looks at multiple requirements, such as cleaning, campus activity, PPE, social distancing requirements and travel guidance. 

Phase II: Effective August 7, 2020

Phase II allows for up to 50% of staff returning to the campuses, based on space configuration, and expanded resumption of critical services with extensive protective measures still in place. Preparing for resumption of normal operations while continuing to limit exposure of returning employees and reduce community transition. During Phase II the mitigation requirements remain the same, however, the guidance is modified to support steps necessary to move to Phase III. Face coverings are required on all campuses.

Operational Details
  • Courses will be delivered through a combination of face-to-face, hybrid and online courses.
  • All employees who can work remotely should continue to do so.
  • No more than 50% of employees should be on campus at any one time.
  • Some points of service may open, such as libraries, student centers and campus recreation facilities on all three campuses, with limited hours or activities. Additional health and safety precautions will be in place, including plans to maintain physical distancing, wear face coverings and follow cleaning protocols.  Requests to open facilities for more in-person operations will continue to be reviewed by the USF COVID-19 Task Force. 
  • Residence halls will open with new health and safety policies in place.
  • All meetings and events should continue to be held virtually. Limited exceptions may be considered and must be reviewed in advance by the COVID-19 Task Force.
  • Some common areas or gathering spaces may open with health and safety precautions.
  • Travel restrictions remain in place.
  • Beginning with the fall 2020 semester, everyone coming to campus must complete a daily symptom check through an easy-to-use digital platform.

Phase III

Phase III allows for up to 75% of staff returning to the campuses, based on space configuration, and near-full full resumption of critical operations. Protective measures remain in place to limit exposure of returning employees and students, and reduce community transition. During Phase III the mitigation requirements remain the same, however, the guidance is modified to support steps necessary to move to Phase IV. 

Phase IV

Phase IV, CDC lifts social distancing guidance, herd immunity is achieved or the rate of transmission in the six-county area of the university is stable below 1.0. All community members return to campuses and operations resume. Protective measures necessary to limit exposure to residual circulating virus remain in place as appropriate and necessary based on data and expert advice.

Progression Through Phases

The decision to progress to a new phase will be based on the ability to meet and/or sustain specific identified criteria in order to avoid adverse impacts to the university community. These benchmarks are based on public health data, and availability of appropriate resources to execute the plan. It is imperative that this plan and identified phases remain flexible and allow the university to respond appropriately to changing conditions.

A formalized process to move through the phases has been developed to allow appropriate university leadership an opportunity for review. Movement through phases will be managed by the Department of Emergency Management, through university Emergency Operations Centers.

Our plan remains flexible and includes a contingency plan that may be implemented to bring us back to a previous phase. Criteria and decision points that may require us to reconsider our approaches or revert back to a more restrictive phase include:

  • A new governmental order prohibits us from moving forward or requires us to phase back
  • COVID-19 cases increase, reports of Influenza-Like Illness and COVID-Like Illness increase every day for 14 days in the surrounding community
  • The percent of positive tests among an individual campus population exceeds that of the surrounding counties
  • We experience an unexpected fatality among a member of our university community related to the event
  • There is a disruption in the supply chain preventing us from obtaining appropriate PPE or cleaning supplies