Dear USF community,
On Monday, the Florida Board of Governors announced that all 12 state universities are preparing to reopen in the fall using a set of guidelines that will be established over the next couple of weeks.
The announcement reaffirms what I shared with you earlier this month regarding our intention to resume some face-to-face courses, services and activities in the fall. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff will remain our top priority as we make decisions about how and when to gradually proceed. When we begin to phase in more on-campus operations, you can expect there will be modifications and precautions in place to support a healthy environment. For now, we ask everyone who can to continue working remotely.
I understand that many of you are eager to hear more details about what will occur in the fall. We know you have many questions. I can assure you that my leadership team and I, along with our partners across the State University System and the Board of Governors, are working diligently to fully develop our plans. I want to use this opportunity to outline the deliberative process we’re using to make these important decisions and a timeline.
The USF COVID-19 Task Force formed in early March and led by USF College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen, is providing my leadership team with valuable analysis and options regarding a phased-in approach for returning to our campuses. USF is fortunate to have world-class public health and medical experts among our faculty to help guide us through this process. The task force includes broad membership from across the university, including Academic Affairs, Student Success, Research and Innovation, USF Health, Student Health Services, representatives from each of our campuses and others.
Working closely with the task force, the USF Emergency Management team, under the capable leadership of Jennifer Fleischman, has adapted our existing University Recovery Plan to include nine workgroups charged with developing a set of considerations and proposals for my leadership team to evaluate. These groups are assessing the key aspects of increasing on-campus operations, including community wellness, academic continuity and support services, financial resources, facilities, student housing and more.
In early June, we expect to present our plan for the fall to the USF Board of Trustees, and on June 23 we’ll do the same with the Florida Board of Governors. As we take these steps and advance our plans over the summer, we pledge to keep you informed and communicate updates when we have more information.
We value your input as part of this process. Faculty and staff will soon receive surveys to gauge your opinions about returning to campus. We’ve taken similar measures with students and we hope to gather more feedback to understand your experiences and the factors important to you.
As we move forward, we know that COVID-19 will continue to present unique challenges and all of us must be prepared to show the same adaptability and flexibility that we’ve demonstrated over the past several months. Our framework for returning to campus will include following the guidelines set by local, state and federal governments while also constantly monitoring COVID-19 data for our campuses and surrounding communities to address any issues proactively.
I wish to express my gratitude to all of you for your patience and resiliency as we navigate this global crisis together. While life on campus will look different in the fall, our creativity and innovative way of thinking will allow us to maintain a sense of community and emerge stronger than ever.
Steven C. Currall
President and Professor