August 10, 2021
I am writing to expand on the guidance provided in a communication to all employees earlier today.
Most importantly, please know that UCF expects that all members of our campus community who are able to do so get vaccinated, and we expect all members of our campus community to wear masks indoors, in line with the latest CDC guidelines.
Vaccines are available on campus and in our community, and along with Student Government, we will continue to emphasize their importance to our students.
We have made vaccinations and indoor masks a campus expectation. However, none of us can require masks, except in approved health care settings. This prohibition includes classrooms and offices. You may ask or encourage students to wear a mask. But you may not offer incentives, such as extra credit, for those who wear masks. Nor can you exclude anyone from in-person classes, meetings, or office hours because they are not wearing a mask. Faculty and staff also may not ask whether a student or colleague has been vaccinated.
The request to wear masks can be simple: “Please wear masks in this class for the protection of yourselves and those around you who may be at higher risk from COVID complications.” Or, if you wish, you may add personal reasons that this is a matter of concern to you. But please be certain that you are asking, not attempting to mandate.
Faculty members may hold their office hours online, in person, or a combination of both. Many of you have reported greater student participation with online office hours. Please consider what works best for your students.
Please keep in mind that emotions are running high on this topic. I encourage you to model respect for all, whatever your feelings are about others’ decisions.
And now, a summary of other COVID-19 protocols for teaching:
- If you learn that a student is ill or has tested positive, please ask the person to call the university’s COVID line (407-823-2509). The COVID line is staffed by public health professionals who will determine appropriate next steps.
- If you are teaching a face-to-face course, you will be notified if a student will be unable to attend class due to COVID. Our public health professionals also determine whether other steps are needed in your class. For example, if contact tracers see a pattern of positive tests in your class, they may determine that the class needs to meet remotely for a time. Faculty may not move to remote teaching on their own, based on reports of illness. Nor should you announce anyone else’s illness to the class; privacy must be respected.
- What if you fall ill, test positive for COVID or are directed to quarantine? Please call the university’s COVID line (407-823-2509). They will inform you of steps you should take related to your health. The next question is what to do about your teaching. If you fall ill, you are, of course, expected to take sick leave. Please inform your chair, whose responsibility it is to work with you to have your courses covered as in a typical year. If you have been directed to isolate or quarantine but have no symptoms, you may wish to switch your face-to-face classes to remote teaching during that period. In this case, you must inform your chair and contact Jana Jasinski, vice provost for Faculty Excellence, at [email protected]. This modality change would only be during the quarantine or isolation period.
- For teaching-related questions, please contact Faculty Excellence, and please direct all COVID-related questions to [email protected]
We continue to monitor COVID-19 cases in our community and on campus and will share any updates to UCF’s plans with you. The UCF coronavirus website is also kept updated.
The current wave of infections means the next few weeks are likely to be particularly challenging for everyone. I ask that you lead your classes with compassion and empathy for students who fall ill. And please extend the same compassion to your coworkers and yourselves.
Thank you for all you do to support our students and their success.
Michael D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs