Dear USF Community,
This afternoon I presented the USF Board of Trustees with an update on resuming additional on-campus operations. As part of our pledge to keep students, faculty and staff informed throughout the COVID-19 challenge, I wish to share the same information with you.
USF is following a blueprint for reopening provided to all state universities by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG), which prioritizes the health and well-being of campus communities and focuses on the delivery of high-quality academic programs and services. Using these important guidelines, and USF’s own set of guiding principles, we are developing strategies that are appropriate for our institution and the unique features of each region in which our campuses are located. USF is fortunate to have world-class public health and medical experts among our faculty to help us through this process, a benefit not every university in the state or nation has available to them.
The update I’m providing today serves as the framework for a more detailed plan that we will share with you after it is presented to the BOG for approval on June 23.
We intend to use a flexible, multiphase approach to gradually increase on-campus activity in an environment that promotes health and safety. Decisions to progress to the next phase, or scale back operations if COVID-19 conditions change, will be made by analyzing factors such as public health and epidemiological data; governmental orders and recommendations; and the availability of personal protective equipment.
Things will look different on our campuses than they have in the past and we will all be asked to behave in different ways. Mitigation measures will be implemented, including requiring face coverings in enclosed spaces such as classrooms or conference rooms, enhancing cleaning protocols and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on physical distancing and limiting the number of people in spaces. Members of our community must take it upon themselves to stay home if you feel sick and practice good hygiene by frequently washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
It will be imperative that we all see this as a shared responsibility to adopt these new behaviors for the health and safety of the entire university community, especially staying mindful of any individuals who are at high risk or may have family members considered as such. Our plans will include reasonable accommodations for students, faculty or staff who are high risk or feel uncomfortable returning to campus.
Under the guidance of USF Health and USF Student Health Services, procedures for screening, testing and monitoring for the virus will be in place prior to the start of the autumn semester. More information on this process will be shared during the coming weeks.
We are finalizing our class schedules for the fall with the goal of balancing the health of our students, faculty and staff with access to high-quality class delivery necessary to ensure student success and timely graduation. To that end, we plan to deliver classes using a flexible hybrid approach that includes a mix of fully face-to-face courses, fully online courses and some courses with a blended mode of instruction (partially in-person and partially online). We will prioritize certain courses for face-to-face delivery, such as labs or studios, with a focus on achieving successful learning outcomes and meeting specialized accreditation standards.
Residence halls on our campuses in Tampa and St. Petersburg will be open with precautions in place for health and safety. This will include limits on the use of common areas and lounges, visitor restrictions and isolation spaces for residential students who test positive for COVID-19 and are not able to safely return home.
Across the university, it’s important for our plans to be adaptable and include contingencies to consider reverting back to a previous phase, if deemed appropriate. I wish to use this opportunity to reaffirm that the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff will continue to be our highest priority as we make decisions moving forward. Thank you for your patience and adaptability as we emerge from the current circumstances as an even stronger community.
We will provide more updates as soon as we have them. For now, please continue to check usf.edu/coronavirus for the latest information.
Steven C. Currall
President and Professor