March 12, 2020
Yesterday, UCF along with other state universities announced we are moving to online instruction for at least two weeks starting Monday. While all UCF campuses will remain open with employees reporting to work, we are advising our students to stay at home and not return to campus during that time.
These are unprecedented steps that significantly impact how we learn, teach and operate. But as the number of Florida cases of COVID-19 continues to increase, the safety and wellbeing of our campus community must be our No. 1 priority, especially as students and faculty prepare to return from spring break.
This is a stressful situation that requires everyone’s flexibility and understanding. We know there are still many unanswered questions about how these decisions will affect each of our students and faculty and staff members.
Teams of university officials — everyone from emergency management and health officials to academic and student support leaders — are working together to quickly finalize more details so that we can share them with you by the end of this week.
Online Instruction and Research
Our academic affairs team, for example, has been providing more information and resources to faculty about how best to move their courses online and what resources need to be provided to students.
While all current online courses will continue as usual, courses in other modalities, including face-to-face, will be canceled Monday and Tuesday. All faculty are expected to have their courses available to students online by Wednesday, March 18. More information on clinical courses, recitals and other performances, and other activities that do not as easily lend themselves to virtual environments will be coming soon.
The Office of Research also will continue to provide guidance directly to faculty researchers regarding their ongoing work and labs over the next two weeks.
While we have advised students not to return to campus for two weeks beginning Monday, residence halls will remain open only for on-campus student residents who do not have an alternative place to stay. Students who need to return must follow the travel guidelines below.
Housing will be reaching out to students who live on campus with further information and instructions for those who will be returning.
As UCF has previously shared, any faculty and staff members or students returning from a country that has a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice, which now includes almost all of Europe, should not come to campus and must self-quarantine for 14 days upon return. Employees who have to self-quarantine should reach out to their supervisors to discuss possible telecommuting options.
If any member of our campus community has returned from one of these countries in the past two weeks — or will soon be returning from one of these countries — please immediately contact Student Health Services at 407-823-2509.
Those who have traveled to CDC Level 2 countries or taken a cruise should monitor their health, limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the U.S., and immediately self-isolate and contact their health care provider upon showing symptoms.
UCF already has canceled all faculty-led trips, international exchanges and participation in partner programs for students and staff members for the spring and summer semesters.
As guidance from the state changes, the university will share new information about travel restrictions via email and the UCF coronavirus website.
Following CDC and Florida Department of Health guidance, faculty and staff members are expected to continue working.
But beginning next week, some campus services will not be available while courses are moved online.
Student employees should contact their supervisors regarding work assignments and accommodations. Other information about what will be open and closed beginning next week is coming soon.
It has become increasingly clear that social distancing is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing means avoiding mass gatherings and settings with large numbers of people and maintaining distance from others when possible.
Earlier this week, UCF provided guidance related to university events, and today, UCF Athletics announced that Knights’ home games would be played without spectators. Soon, we will be communicating additional information related to university events.
There’s no doubt that this is a critical time for our university, state, country and the world. We are working hard so UCF is prepared to ensure our students, faculty and staff can continue to safely receive a quality education, teach and work.
I have incredible confidence in our team — and in each of you. We will be compassionate and creative and apply the grit that we use to tackle any challenge that we face — like Knights always do.
Thad Seymour Jr., Ph.D.