Now is the time for UF to embrace its excellence and leadership as we work together to end this pandemic!
We, the undersigned, urge UF to amend its semester plan in order to boldly guide us toward economic and health recovery in Spring 2021. UF has been a strong voice in these difficult times and has the resources to again guide our community through this final stage. As a nationally recognized leader in online education, UF can also provide a model of economic recovery and community care by implementing the flexibility of its Spring 2021 plan and moving classes online for the beginning of the semester.
The reality is that the landscape has changed since the original Spring 2021 plan was designed:
The number of newly recorded cases in Florida are the highest they have ever been, with January 3rd as the fifth consecutive reporting day of over 10,000 cases and a 4% increase from the day before on January 4th.
Florida harbors nearly half of known American cases of the mutated coronavirus strain, which is reportedly more transmissible with many researchers estimating it could be “50% more transmissible than the original strain.”
Hospitals locally are already near capacity, with UF Health Shands Hospital at 88% ICU Capacity and North Florida Regional Hospital ICU capacity at 95%, as of January 4, 2021.
Holiday and travel surges are expected to rise in the South and this is likely to be exaggerated in college towns where we now know fall COVID surges were linked to college students moving between home communities and the university.
Many other institutions of higher education in the US, recognizing that they play an important role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, are adjusting their plans (starting spring semester later or online).
As a nationally-recognized leader in online education, the University of Florida can show its excellence by moving the semester online for the beginning of the semester. UF can ensure high-quality online education and delay in-person classes which will help businesses stay open and protect our health care system. UF is playing a leading role in distributing vaccines and providing medical care in our community and can extend that by being the leader it is in online education. We call on President Fuchs and Provost Glover to change the semester plan to move online. Let’s be Great Florida Gators!