Only 35 percent of undergraduate, graduate and professional course "sections" will be held in person or as a “hybrid,” a mixture of in person and online, according to an email sent by UF administrators Friday morning. An additional 35 percent of classes will be offered in a synchronous, online format. This means that classes will be held over the internet at a predetermined time.
The Schedule of Courses on One.UF has been updated to reflect the changes of Friday’s announcement. To allow for physical distancing, some classes will also be held outdoors.
If COVID-19 cases lessen significantly in the Fall term, these synchronous courses could become face-to-face, according to the email.
“We cannot count on that happening, but the option to convert to face-to-face is there throughout the Fall semester,” it said.
As of Friday, Alachua County has reported 107 new cases, and 1,978 total positive cases.
UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said the university's plan was finalized earlier this week.
The percentage of in-person and online courses was determined by the amount of classroom space on campus, the number of faculty and the number of hours available for class time in a day, he said. All of these considerations had to be evaluated to account for social distancing and CDC safety guidelines.
Classroom space was cut down by 80 percent, he said, so deciding which classes would be held in-person also came down to the “experiential” nature of certain courses like labs, music instruction, or those where students must work in fields for things like agricultural work, Orlando said.
Professors were not allowed to weigh in on the format of their courses, he said.
If the number of cases in the area were to rise, the plan is flexible and would allow the university to transition back to online, he said.
Orlando said he does not know how many cases would warrant a transition to moving fully online. Experts at UF Health will continue to monitor the evolving situation, he said.
“We are anticipating the Fall to look like the plan you see today,” Orlando said. “But if the need arose, that for some reason we did have to go back to a fully online situation like we did in the Spring, we've shown we have the capability to do that.”
The announcement comes one week after administrators initially planned to release the revised Fall schedule but delayed the decision after positive cases of COVID-19 surged in Alachua County and the state.
The university then asked students to complete an online COVID-19 screening before returning to campus. Screening involves a questionnaire where students must record any COVID-19 symptoms they are experiencing, as well as indicate whether they have come in contact with someone who is confirmed to have the virus.
Students may then choose whether they’d like to be tested for the virus. UF has not released a specific plan for if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs on campus.
Leadership have developed a “range of contingency plans” that consider the capabilities of local and on-campus healthcare providers and state and federal guidelines, according to UF's Frequently Asked Questions update. And they will “take into account what is happening in the surrounding community.”
Additionally, campus tours for prospective students will not be held earlier than mid-September, according to the FAQ updates.
The discussion over whether Fall classes should be taught online or in person has taken place since classes originally moved online in Spring. It involved months of meetings with the Florida Board of Governors, the UF Board of Trustees, the State University System and even the vice president of the United States.
UF’s announcement appears to be the first opportunity for students to plan their return to campus. It comes less than two months before the first day of Fall classes, Aug. 31.
The article has been updated to include a class schedule legend and comments by UF Spokesperson Steve Orlando.