University of South Florida

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

An Important Note to Faculty (3/21)

Dear Colleagues,

As USF’s scheduled Spring break comes to a close and the rapid transition to remote instructional delivery nears, I wanted to take a moment to share how deeply appreciative I am of the tireless dedication you have shown in the face of unprecedented events and the disruption in your lives.

Your efforts and accomplishments have been truly inspirational as you strive to prepare to meet the continuing educational needs of our students.  Each day I hear remarkable stories from our academic and student success leadership teams of the sacrifices and commitment exhibited by our faculty members across all three campuses. And special thanks to our colleagues in USF Health who are wrestling daily with the layered complexities associated with continuing clinical care.

As we all recognize, in recent weeks, we have found ourselves blown into uncharted waters and we are struggling to navigate our way, fighting unpredictable winds, and currents, with likely storms on the horizon. 

I understand the anxiety and fear of the unknown that such uncertainty can bring, especially as our lives have been thrown into turmoil and we seek to stay connected with, and support, our loved ones including those at a geographical distance.

First, I ask you to take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.  Follow the well-published precautions from the CDC and practice social distancing as you work remotely. Behave as if you have the virus for some of us likely do, and we just don’t know it. Each one of us must do all that we can to limit community spread and “flatten the curve.” Life is precious. Care for yourself and for others.

As you search for a glimmer of normalcy in these uncommon times, please stay connected with your loved ones, your students, faculty, and staff colleagues. Look out for one another.

For those who find themselves struggling with the impact of social distancing and loneliness, today or tomorrow, you might reach out for counseling support through the USF Employee Assistance Program consider these Tips on Working Remotely along with these Tips and Tricks for Thriving During Self-Isolation.

Before we resume class instruction from remote locations, beginning on Monday, March 23, I urge you to review the guidance provided on USF’s official source for information, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) website. While we plan to limit broadcasted messages knowing how inundated your inbox is, we will certainly update you on essential changes as they happen. You will also find helpful guidance in the Faculty Toolkit, the Current Student Toolkit, and on the FAQ page.

We anticipate the coming days to be a little “bumpy” for some of our students, faculty, and staff as, collectively, we navigate a new course. Most importantly, I ask that you remain mindful of what your students, faculty and staff colleagues are coping with during these challenging times. Communicate with them regularly, yet please set reasonable expectations for response and be patient. Our students will look to you for calm, clear, concise, consistent, and confident guidance, all sprinkled with a heavy dose of compassion. To be clear, this is not to suggest that we compromise academic integrity, for we must still expect our students to demonstrate mastery of student learning outcomes, albeit, in some cases, in quite different ways.

Your students will be looking for your ongoing support outside of the virtual classroom, so please make provision for remote “office hours.” Please be sure to maintain access to your students’ USF email addresses and request their telephone contacts in case one or more of our trusted digital platforms experience an interruption in service. Please remain particularly sensitive to the needs of those students expecting to graduate this semester, for they have already been disappointed by the news that commencement will be postponed.

Most importantly, please stay in close contact with your department chair, school director, or college dean. Let them know if you need additional support, and if you are not able to fulfill your instructional assignment.

We also know that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought about major disruptions in the lives of our faculty that may temporarily prevent or interrupt their scholarly productivity and achievements. This problem is especially acute for those faculty members in their probationary period and who are working towards tenure. Therefore, the university is making available an extension to the tenure-clock by one academic year, for eligible tenure-earning faculty members. This action has been carefully considered, and endorsed by, the faculty senate presidents on all USF campuses, the president of the USF System Faculty Council, all College Deans (across all campuses), leadership of the USF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida, the Senior Vice President for USF Health, the Provost and University President. You can learn more about USF’s extension of the tenure-clock here.

With a mind to easing the burden on faculty members, faculty committees, and academic leaders at a time when your rightful focus is on transitioning to remote instructional delivery, we are permitting colleges, schools, and departments to relax their annual faculty evaluation deadlines. Chairs on 12-month appointments (and Deans as appropriate) must complete the process and notify faculty that evaluations are available for review no later than June 5, 2020 (per the USF-UFF CBA). At that time, faculty must review and sign the document. Chairs on 9-month appointments must complete their responsibilities by May 5, 2020. 

Please know that we continue to monitor developments and will work to support your focus on meeting our students’ needs. As we can all acknowledge, these are not normal times and we should not expect to follow normal practices. Your deans, directors, and chairs, along with the broader academic and student success leadership teams, are here to support you. Please let us know how we can help?

Meantime, please do all that you can to stay healthy as, together, we strive to balance the needs of our loved ones, our students, and the broader USF community.

Best regards,

Ralph C. Wilcox
Provost & Executive Vice President

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Coronavirus Updates

This is an evolving situation. Please refer to the most recent information presented.

USF students, faculty and staff: Please check your USF email frequently. Your email will be used to convey targeted information.

The University of South Florida continues to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority as university leaders work closely with local, state and federal agencies to share the most updated information.