Dear USF faculty, staff and students,
As we look ahead to the start of the fall semester, it is critically important that we remain mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic and do everything we can to mitigate its spread. New variants, most notably the delta variant, are more infectious than earlier strains and are causing new surges in cases. The situation is of sufficient concern that it warrants active vigilance on everyone’s part.
We remain committed to our plans for returning to normal university operations this fall as we continue to follow guidance from state leaders and medical experts.
We strongly encourage vaccines as our most reliable means of stopping the spread of COVID-19. All of USF’s faculty, staff and students are of age to be eligible for the vaccine, therefore if someone chooses not to be vaccinated, they are assuming significant risk, including isolation and quarantine.
The vaccine is free, readily available and is a reliable way to ensure that students do not face any disruption to their studies or social activities, and faculty and staff do not face disruption to their teaching, research or university work. Our plans to return to pre-COVID-19 in-person classes and activities have not changed, with the expectation that individuals will take steps to protect themselves by choosing to get vaccinated and wearing a mask.
This guidance echoes that of the Board of Governors, which issued a clear message for all State University System students this week strongly encouraging the COVID-19 vaccine.
All of our latest return-to-campus guidance can be found at www.usf.edu/coronavirus/returning-to-campus.
As a reminder, here are the key highlights:
- Vaccines: Vaccines continue to be strongly encouraged and will be made available to any member of the USF community who still wants one. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit usf.edu/coronavirus/returning-to-campus/vaccinations.
- Masks: While masks are not required at USF, the CDC issued revised guidance this week strongly recommending that everyone wear masks while indoors. We encourage everyone to choose to wear a mask indoors, especially those who are not vaccinated.
- Testing: We continue to offer free, voluntary COVID-19 testing for students and employees. Students should contact Student Health Services on their individual campuses. Employees on the Tampa or downtown campus should contact the USF Health Morsani clinic. Employees on the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses should contact Student Health Services on their respective campuses.
- Reporting positive cases or exposures: Positive cases and possible exposures can be reported confidentially through email@example.com so we may provide care and conduct appropriate contact tracing. Please note that you may be contacted if you have been exposed; it is important that you respond quickly and follow all recommended guidance.
- Isolation of positive cases: Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate and cannot attend class or come to campus for at least 10 days or until cleared by USF. Residential students will be housed in a designated isolation building.
- Quarantine procedures: Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to a positive case must leave campus and remain in quarantine for seven days, if tested negative on day six, or 10 days if not tested. The university cannot accommodate exposed unvaccinated individuals who need to be quarantined. Vaccinated individuals who are exposed do not need to quarantine unless they are symptomatic and directed to do so.
- In-person classes: There are no longer social-distancing requirements in place at USF. Faculty members will continue teaching in their current modality unless directed otherwise by university leadership, with the expectation that individuals will take steps to protect themselves by choosing to get vaccinated and wearing a mask.
- In-person meetings and events: Though in-person events are not prohibited, unit leaders may choose to move in-person meetings (not classes) to a virtual format until the latest surge in cases subsides. We understand that there are many events that cannot be held remotely, and many in-person activities will continue as planned. There has been no change announced for summer commencement.
- Remote work: Employees are encouraged to work with their supervisors to design work structures that make the most sense based on the nature of work. Please continue to utilize our many resources for Your Safe Return from USF’s Human Resources Office at usf.edu/hr/safe-return.
Thank you for your patience and trust as we navigate this complex situation. As always, we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and state leaders, and we will continue to make vaccines freely available to anyone who wants one. We are always prepared to modify our approach if necessary, but for now we should proceed optimistically toward a productive fall semester.
For additional questions about USF and coronavirus, contact usf.edu/covidquestions.