Dear USF faculty colleagues,
As you know from recent communications, we continue to monitor the rapidly evolving coronavirus COVID-19 situation in order to share the best guidance we can, using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health. While the almost continuous cycle of news understandably places everyone in a heightened state of alert, we are working collaboratively and systematically to minimize disruption to teaching and learning, as well as student, faculty and staff support, while protecting the health and wellbeing of our academic community members. Accordingly, it is critical to share the following guidance and advice with you.
Importantly, we encourage faculty, staff and students to stay home if they do not feel well, and you can help us reinforce this message in several essential ways:
- I ask that you communicate to all students in your classes that, in an abundance of caution, if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms (regardless of travel history), they should stay home. Please do not ask anyone to leave your class based on appearances, assumptions or because of their country of origin. Rather, we suggest you tell students to feel free to leave your class if they are not feeling well. We have a shared responsibility to protect our community from not only illness, but social stigma and discrimination as well. To minimize any specific exposure risk, you should know that we are monitoring travel and managing self-quarantine procedures for members of the USF community who have recently returned from countries with active transmission.
- As we advise students to stay home or to leave if they aren’t feeling well, we must then make accommodations to our attendance policies. We do not want to create perverse incentives for students to attend class if they are feeling ill. Students need to know that they will not be penalized for staying home or leaving class.
- If you aren’t feeling well or have reason to be concerned about your health and wellbeing, you should discuss with academic leaders in your department, school or college those options related to your absence from the classroom.
- In the event of a community outbreak, the university administration will work closely with USF Health, local health officials and other key leaders to make appropriate determinations regarding class suspension or other campus and/or university closures as necessary. Individual instructors are not authorized to cancel or suspend course delivery. Please consult with your department chair, school director or dean if you have questions or concerns.
- If students, teaching assistants or you, yourself, must be absent from scheduled classes, you should work with your department chair, school director or dean to develop plans for continuity of instructional delivery and student learning. At all times, we must assure academic quality and the integrity of credits earned by our students. It is your responsibility to ensure that students are meeting course requirements and learning outcomes. However, we will also respect individual health decisions. As a caring academic community, we must do all we can to prevent or mitigate the spread of this disease across our campuses, all while fulfilling our mission and continuing to serve the needs of our students, faculty and staff.
- As we seek to provide educational access to students outside the classroom, as may become necessary, we are developing instructional resources, support and technological alternatives to face-to-face course delivery, utilizing our learning management tool, Canvas. At the same time, I encourage you to begin considering alternative options to satisfy in-person expectations such as class participation, group projects, community-based assignments, or in-person presentations (inCanvas) should students and faculty need to be away from class for prolonged periods of time. We are also working to ensure that, if necessary, students will be provided continuing and remote access to essential services, including yet not limited to academic advising, counseling, library resources, virtual study groups and technology support should they find themselves away from campus.
- Finally, if any classes, including those currently delivered at off-campus locations, need to be relocated to other off-campus locations, please immediately contact our SACSCOC Liaison Michael Wrona at email@example.com, so he can notify SACSCOC, which must approve all instructional sites.
For the official University of South Florida communications and links to up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit usf.edu/coronavirus.
I thank you for your understanding in these challenging times, and please stay healthy.
Ralph C. Wilcox
Provost & Executive Vice President
Pertinent USF Policies and Regulations: