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January 8, 2021

Happy New Year, and welcome back. I hope 2021 is brighter for us all.

Classes will begin on Monday as planned. We will continue to follow our COVID protocols including face coverings, physical distancing, and extra cleaning. There is excellent evidence that these measures work to prevent transmission in the classroom.

Cases in Florida continue to grow. However, forecasts suggest that this should peak in a week or so, and vaccines are slowly being distributed. But these next few weeks are critical to our success. It is essential that all of us are careful to comply with the protocols if this semester is to succeed.

Students have been encouraged to self-quarantine before returning to campus, and those living in campus housing are being tested before they move in. Early results this week are encouraging, with about 1 percent positivity rates. Random testing will continue throughout the spring.

Under current projections, hospital capacities, testing, etc., are expected to remain sufficient in coming weeks. If this changes, we are prepared to pivot to more remote teaching and other measures as needed.

UCF has a well-developed plan for mass vaccinations, and we will be a vaccine site for our faculty, staff and students. Some early good news is that we expect to receive and administer more than 1,000 doses of the vaccine next week. These will be made available to health care workers, faculty, and also employees and students over 65. Details will come as soon as possible.

If this semester marks your first time on campus since COVID, you need to complete the mandatory online Employee Return to Campus Operations training through Webcourses. In addition, all of us are required to submit the COVID Self-Checker in the UCF Mobile app each day we come to campus.

As always, the latest UCF COVID news and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the UCF Coronavirus page. Please also remember the information available at the Faculty Toolkit.

The roll-out of vaccines gives us hope for a return to normality, but this is still a tough time for many students. Please be as flexible and accommodating as you can, especially for students who fall ill or are quarantined. Your concern for these students this past many months has been a key to their success. My thanks for your care and hard work.

Stay safe and well.

Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs