Editor's Note: If you think you might have COVID-19, contact the Alachua County Health Department at (352) 334-7900 or the Student Health Care Center at (352) 392-1161. The Alligator doesn’t have information about the names of these county and UF patients due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly known as HIPAA, which protects patient privacy.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Alachua County jumped to 46 today, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Around 11 a.m., the department reported eight new Florida resident cases: a 60-year-old female, a 25-year-old female, a 21-year-old female, a 26-year-old male, a 72-year-old female, a 35-year-old male, a 20-year-old male and a 67-year-old male, according to the department’s daily report. At 6 p.m., one more Florida resident case was announced — a 23-year-old female.
Only 24 percent of all the county’s cases are travel-related, according to the department. Paul Myers, administrator for the county health department, confirmed Saturday that community spread, or the transmission of a virus with no known origin, is occurring in Alachua County.
He advised residents to “act accordingly.”
In a chart of cities with the most COVID-19 positive cases in Florida residents, Gainesville was listed as 10th highest, with 33 resident cases, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
As of this morning, Florida’s numbers continue to increase with a total of 1,977 cases and 23 deaths, according to the department’s dashboard.
UF reports five new cases of COVID-19
UF reported five new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases at the university to 19.
Today’s report included UF’s first case of COVID-19 of a student living on-campus. The student is an undergraduate student in the College of Agricultural and Life sciences, but UF did not reveal where the student was living on-campus.
UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said that out of privacy for the student, UF will not be revealing what dorm the student lives in, but students who live there have been notified. He said appropriate public health and cleaning measures have been taken and that the dorms will remain open.
Despite UF not publicly announcing what dorm the student was living in, students in Weaver Hall received an email saying that a student who tested positive lived in the residence hall until March 20.
The email said that the student moved out of the residence hall last week and is now self-isolating in their home outside of Florida. The email asks that all students monitor their symptoms and continue practicing social distancing.
Other cases reported today include another undergraduate student in CALS, an undergraduate in the College of Journalism and Communications, a professional student in the College of Dentistry and a UF/IFAS Extension employee in the off-campus county extension office.
Last week the Gainesville Sun reported that a UF Dentistry student had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 12, and UF and the College of Dentistry asked the student not to communicate about his diagnosis.
The student also said that despite feeling sick, he continued to work in the school’s clinic.
UF student Ashley Kent posted on Facebook that she had also tested positive for COVID-19. She shared in her post that she tested negative for the flu and mono, but was denied the test at first because she was considered “low risk.”
S/U grade option made available to students
Students now have the option to take classes without a normal letter grade.
Starting April 1, students will be able to fill out an online form on one.uf to submit a S-U request, more commonly known as pass or fail, for their classes, according to UF’s policy update for the S-U grade option. This online form will be available until April 22.
The grading option allows students to receive a grade of either “S,” which is the letter grade for getting above a C, or “U,” which is the letter grade received if the student receives a C- and under in the course, according to UF’s S-U grading page.
Courses that are not eligible for the S-U grading option include courses ended before March 9 and two courses offered by the College of Public Health and Health Professions: SPA4004 and SPA4001, the S-U grading page read. This is because these courses are important for the master’s program in speech language pathology so students can meet the standards for clinical certification.
This S-U grading option is not the same as pass or fail grading, the S-U grading page read. A student who earns a “U” will not receive credit for the class and it will not count toward degree requirements. UF does not offer pass or fail grading because a “pass” grade would mean that all grades D- and above are passing and E grades would be failing.
Along with this, the withdrawal or drop deadline for classes has shifted from April 10 to April 22, according to UF’s policy update page.
Students who are on academic probation are allowed to submit an S-U request for only this Spring, the S-U page read. Receiving an “S” grade will not help a student exit probation, but a student who is on probation will have their status extended by another semester so the student has time to improve his or her GPA.
Once a student submits the request for this grading option, the student cannot revert the request back to a letter grade, the grading page read.
The grading option also will allow courses to count for hours earned for Florida Bright Futures and Federal Aid renewal, according to a page on possible impacts for financial aid. However, students who drop a course will still have to repay Bright Futures and might potentially not meet renewal criteria if they fall below their necessary credit hours.
The grade option was initially announced to be guaranteed for students on UF’s COVID-19 page on March 18, and then it was revised hours later to tell students that UF is working on this option.
Students started an online petition on March 17 for a pass or fail grading option. As of this evening, the petition had a total of more than 18,000 signatures.
Orlando wrote in a text to The Alligator on March 17, the same day the petition was made, that pass or fail grading would not initially be implemented.
The S/U grading option is normally approved for elective courses, and students usually only choose one course per term with this grading option, according to the grading page.
Alex DeLuca, Alyssa Feliciano and Stephany Matat contributed to this report.