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June 23, 2020

The Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s public university system, today approved UCF’s phased-in plan to reopen in the fall.

The plan was developed using guidance from federal and state agencies, including the Florida Department of Health, and by numerous university workgroups that focused on a variety of aspects from instruction, to testing and tracing, to housing and student life. UCF also hosted multiple virtual town halls to solicit feedback, and received more than 5,000 student responses from a Student Government survey that were incorporated in the planning.

“At the core of this is the health and well-being of our community,” said UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright during the Board of Governors meeting, adding that UCF’s plan is a “phased-in and flexible one” that could adjust as conditions change and if the university receives new guidance. “In all our efforts, our students and their success this fall are top of mind.”

A successful return to campus depends on everyone’s commitment to following the health and safety guidelines of the plan.

Key points of the plan include:

  • Required face coverings in all university buildings, and reduced building capacities to allow for physical distancing.
  • Prior to returning to campus, everyone will be required to complete training to understand UCF’s new emergency policy, preventative health measures, and the importance of a campus culture of caring and personal responsibility.
  • A mix of face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid or BlendFlex Model class formats. Priority for in-person instruction will be given to courses based on subject matter, and that are known to lead to higher student success and retention. The format for each course will be finalized by July 1.
  • Flexibility from managers and supervisors, allowing employees to continue remote work to address at-risk needs or where productivity can be maintained from home.
  • Enhanced cleanings and disinfection practices across campus with increased frequency in common, high-touch point areas, consistent with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
  • Reduced housing and bed capacity in on-campus residences to follow physical distancing guidelines and to reserve rooms for isolation or quarantine, as needed.
  • A hybrid strategy for fall events and activities to offer virtual participation options, and to limit the frequency and size of face-to-face interactions.
  • Student-athlete participation in organized activities, as well as the return of spectators, will depend on state and local guidance, as well as plans from the American Athletic Conference.

We understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the pandemic. That’s why the return-to-campus plan allows for flexibility should someone fall ill during the semester, need to care for a loved one, or should guidance for the greater community changes. For more information on the plan, visit the Returning to UCF website.

“Knights are known for many things: our ingenuity, our can-do attitude, and caring for each other. And each of us must take steps to not only protect ourselves, but to care for each other,” President Cartwright said.

“We have been very closely monitoring the rise in cases in our region and have been directly reaching out to student leaders and student organizations, as well as launching a targeted social media campaign about the importance of health and well-being behaviors, like wearing facial coverings and physical distancing.

This important work and communication must be done this summer, before our students return to campus, to help them follow these precautions all the time, not just when they are with us.”

As we look forward to the fall semester, everyone is reminded to remain vigilant and commit to keeping themselves and others safe. One of the most effective ways to combat the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face covering, which is why UCF ordered every student, faculty and staff member a reusable face covering, which are now available for pick up with a valid UCF ID card at distribution stations on the main campus. Distribution stations are coming soon to UCF Downtown, Rosen, and Lake Nona campuses.

UCF also will leverage its longstanding relationship with the Florida Department of Health to conduct testing and contact tracing. Upon return to campus, targeted student groups, including student-athletes, on-campus residents and symptomatic persons, will be tested for COVID-19. UCF will work with the health department to appropriately respond to each positive case, including contact tracing to help contain the spread of the virus. A new COVID self-screening tool also is under development and will be made available to the entire university community through the UCF App to provide daily screenings and education on COVID-19, and to prompt those who indicate they are experiencing symptoms to remain off campus and obtain testing.

Though the campus will look much different due to COVID-19, President Cartwright emphasized that UCF remains focused on student success.

“We will continue to put the health and well-being of our students first, while ensuring they have the resources they need — in the form of course delivery, student support services, and campus activities — to not just minimize disruptions, but to help them thrive despite all of these changes.”