Students will get sick, said UF Provost Joe Glover, but UF’s plan to reopen aims to give students the best education while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
UF Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini, President Kent Fuchs, Chief Operating Officer Charlie Lane and Glover presented UF’s reopening plan to the Florida Board of Governors in a meeting Tuesday.
After a 30-minute discussion about logistics, the board approved the plan.
To ensure the number of infections stays as low as possible, UF’s plan requires all students and faculty to wear masks and complete a survey that screens for COVID-19 risk factors, he said. Testing for the virus will be optional, Lane said. Whether students will be screened before coming to campus is not clear.
Masks will be required inside facilities but cannot be enforced outside, Lane said. It is unclear if they will be required in dorms.
Students who get infected will be required to quarantine. The university will provide food, counseling and other resources to students in quarantine, according to Lane. UF has 136 beds on-campus and about 150 beds off-campus reserved for students who will be quarantined, he said. It is unclear where on or off-campus these will be located.
Glover said UF is revising the full schedule of classes to make courses available online and in hybrid formats, and the changes will be completed by July 1. Students will receive information about changes to their schedules and be able to review and adjust them as necessary, he said. Officials did not specify exactly when students will receive this information, but Glover said it will likely be after July 1.
Faculty have been encouraged to format their classes to not require students to return to class after Thanksgiving, he said.
The number of students who can occupy dorms will drop by about 4 percent, Lane said. Extra precautions will be taken to clean dorms, bathrooms, and classrooms.
UF is also considering hosting classes and events outdoors to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Glover said.
The experience at UF will be different, UF President Kent Fuchs said. But regardless of COVID-19, the university plans to keep UF at the same level of “effectiveness and excellence,” including providing extracurricular activities, research and clinical operations.
Large events on campus, such as Dance Marathon and Accent Speakers Bureau performances, will be evaluated by medical experts who will advise on necessary conditions for the events, Glover said.
While the UF Board of Trustees has prepared as best they can, Hosseini said, the reopening plan will likely change between now and the start of Fall.
UF formulated its reopening plan based on the Board’s approved blueprint for reopening, released May 28.
Renee Fargason, director of strategic communications and advocacy for the Board of Governors, wrote in an email to The Alligator that the most critical element of reopening is a shared responsibility among students, faculty, employees, vendors, visitors, and community partners.
UF Health expert and State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees has reviewed each university's plans as an adviser on the Board of Governors reopening task force.
In the meeting, Rivkees said students must know they are personally responsible for preventing the spread of COVID-19, too. Students should be mindful about wearing masks and social distancing whenever possible, he said.