UF released a draft of its reopening plans for Fall, which outlines policies for course delivery, housing, screening and testing and campus life.
The university’s plan to reopen has been in motion since May 6, when the university began screening and testing employees, hoping to have them back on campus by the end of June, according to the draft.
Students coming from areas with higher rates of COVID-19 will be screened to determine the level of risk they bring to campus. At-risk students will receive medical treatment for the virus before they return.
In terms of course delivery, the draft states that UF’s primary goals for Fall are to guarantee all students academically progress toward graduation while maintaining a safe environment and financial stability for the university.
"Efforts are being made to enable return to campus after Thanksgiving break to be optional for as many students as possible,” the plan said.
Factors such as classroom space, sanitation and social distancing will determine whether courses are instructed face-to-face or in an online or hybrid format, the document said.
According to the draft, “The colleges will continue to work with the provost’s office throughout June to update the course schedule for the Fall semester in anticipation of students being asked to re-register in light of the changed environment,”
On-campus housing contracts will be honored, but all rooms will be limited to two students. Triple rooms that typically house three students will be made into doubles. The number of guests that can visit at a time will also be limited. Students will be encouraged to practice room cleaning, and staff will be trained to follow cleaning protocols.
The draft said sororities and fraternities will be required to submit a plan to address housing and dining arrangements, cleaning protocols and public health measures.
In the draft, the university acknowledged that the reopening of campus will bring a large number of students back to Gainesville at one time.
“Perhaps the most critical factor in the success of UF’s fall semester will be the students who will arrive on campus from virtually every county in the state, every state in the nation, and countries on almost every continent,” UF’s plan states.
UF hopes to change the norms on campus by encouraging students to practice good hygiene, use protective face coverings, social distance and reduce risky behavior.
“A critical component of mitigating risk on campus will be the creation of a campus culture supportive of public health measures to address behaviors necessary for promoting a safer community,” the plan said.
Faculty, staff and students who don’t comply with Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines will be asked to leave the area in order to maintain the safety of others on campus.
The university has followed local, state and federal guidelines as well as advice from UF Health professionals, to initiate their Screen, Test and Protect program, according to the document. It plans to provide free screening and testing for all students and faculty as well as housing options in the event of a positive case being found.
UF made the transition to remote learning in March after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced four UF students tested positive for COVID-19. The university has since moved all Summer classes online and pushed back the start of the Fall semester to Aug. 31.
The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s 12 public universities, approved a plan to begin reopening campuses in a meeting May 28. The Board provided a blueprint for universities to follow, and each will present their plans to the Board in a meeting on June 23.
While plans will evolve based on the status of COVID-19, the cornerstone of UF’s plan is the health and welfare of all members of the campus community, according to the document.
“We have decided that we must learn to live, study and work in the midst of COVID-19,” the document said. “We are committed to reopening and to welcoming students back to campus for the fall semester.”