Dear USF Community,
Welcome to the spring 2021 semester. I hope you enjoyed the holiday break and were able to take some much-deserved time to rest and recover.
In this New Year, I am encouraged by a sense of hope and renewal. Even as we face continued challenges – in our communities and as a nation – the horizon is bright, especially as we continue to rely on our deep sense of connectedness as a community.
As we begin classes on Monday, I want to provide a few important updates:
Increased COVID Mitigation Strategies
To prepare for the return to campus, all faculty, staff and students were required to complete the Return to Campus Assessment. For those who indicate plans to be on campus, USF’s Daily Symptom Checker is required and has been modified to allow better outreach and exposure assessment and swift support for members of our community.
As such, it is imperative that everyone completes the Daily Symptom Checker honestly, stay home if symptomatic or possibly exposed and faithfully report infection or exposure. Failure to do so will result in a referral to Student Conduct or Human Resources and could result in disciplinary action or dismissal.
Throughout the fall, the university successfully used a random testing approach to monitor the prevalence of the coronavirus on our campuses. This provided us with data critical for decision-making.
Because cases of COVID are on the rise, USF will increase our surveillance capability by expanding our random testing protocol to a larger percentage of the population. If you are living on campus, taking in-person classes, or coming to campus on a regular basis, you will likely be contacted for random testing. Your cooperation is expected.
USF Vaccine Program
We were pleased to announce this week that through a partnership with the Hillsborough County Department of Health, USF received approval to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible USF faculty and staff from all three campuses. The vaccine, which is in limited supply, will be administered by appointment only to faculty and staff age 65 and older, based on state of Florida guidelines. Faculty and staff received a communication on Wednesday with complete details and required survey links. Please review this information carefully.
Town Hall Next Week
To address any of your questions as we begin the new semester, I’m hosting a virtual campus community Town Hall at 11 a.m. next Thursday, January 14. Joining me as co-hosts for this event will be Angie Sklenka, vice president for Human Resources at USF, and Dean Donna Petersen, chair of USF’s COVID-19 Task Force. Our topics will include the new mitigation strategies, testing and vaccine program, as well as strategies to help us navigate change and tend to self-care. Please mark your calendars and plan to join the event using this link.
I look forward to advancing our work together this semester. Above all, I thank you for your hard work, resilience and tireless dedication to this great university.