Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met with USF President Steve Currall and members of his leadership team for a panel discussion on the impact COVID-19 has had on the reopening of Florida schools. The visit occurred on the first day of in-person classes for K-12 public schools in Hillsborough County and other school districts throughout the state. USF started the fall semester Aug. 24.
“Having our universities up and operating is very important,” DeSantis said. “We want to continue to support those efforts going forward and of course that involves the instruction, which is key, and also involves athletics.”
During the panel discussion, Currall discussed several steps USF is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Beginning this week, the university has implemented random pooled testing of all faculty, staff and students present on each campus. Environmental testing is also being conducted on high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, elevator buttons, faucets and snack machines. Certain groups of students have additional testing requirements, such as residential students, who were all required to test negative before moving onto campus. Additionally, fall student-athletes are being tested weekly as part of a feasibility study on the effectiveness of pooled testing for COVID-19.
The panel also reviewed data trends from across the country and the Tampa Bay region regarding the number of new infections, hospitalizations and testing capacities.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis
- Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Florida Department of Education
- USF President Steve Currall
- Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine
- Donna Petersen, dean of the USF College of Public Health and chair of the USF COVID-19 Task Force
- Heather Jenkins, Collaboratory Prep
- Jordan Fuchs, Collaboratory Prep
Dr. Scott Atlas, newly appointed member of the White House coronavirus task force, joined DeSantis at the podium to answer questions from reporters prior to the panel discussion.