Last updated at 2:25 p.m. on March 26, 2020.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rapidly evolve. On March 19, UCF learned that one of our students has tested positive for COVID-19.
UCF has transitioned to remote instruction effective through the spring semester, under official direction from the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System. Additionally, UCF will continue with remote instruction through the Summer A, C and D semesters, which all start on Monday, May 11, to minimize health and safety risks to the UCF community. At this time, the university has not made a decision about remote instruction for the summer B term, which begins June 22.
All UCF campuses will remain open, but during this period of remote instruction, we are advising our students to stay at home and not return to campus at this time. Most employees, with the exception of employees whose jobs cannot be performed remotely, are asked to begin working remotely starting Wednesday. Students will be able to access almost all campus services remotely.
Impact at UCF
On March 19, UCF learned that one of our students has tested positive for COVID-19.
The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days, and we believe the risk of anyone who came into contact with him developing symptoms at this point is very low. Out of an abundance of caution, his residence hall and classrooms will be decontaminated for everyone’s safety.
The student is recovering away from UCF, and he has our best wishes for good health.
Additionally, a military contractor who works at the Partnership IV Building in the Central Florida Research Park adjacent to the main campus has tested positive for the coronavirus. Several of his colleagues also have submitted to tests.
While a small number of UCF Institute for Simulation and Training employees work in the same building, they aren’t believed to have come into contact with the military contractor. The UCF employees have already been working remotely and have been advised to monitor their health. Partnership IV will be closed for two weeks following thorough decontamination.
UCF also is aware of other students who have exhibited symptoms and are being tested and observing self-quarantine. While we believe their risk is low, this is a wake-up call that COVID-19 is at UCF and all of us must be vigilant.
UCF leadership, including Interim President Thad Seymour Jr., continues to make decisions in consultation with public health officials and state leaders that prioritize the health and safety of everyone at UCF and in our broader community.
Online classes will continue as usual starting March 16; face-to-face classes will be available in an online format on 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 academic affairs team 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.
Remote instruction will continue through the summer A, C and D semesters. Because courses are being moved online, students should not to come back to campus during this period of remote instruction. Fourteen days is the period in which secondary transmission to others is thought to be highest, and UCF advises against any additional travel during this time.
Residence halls will remain open only as a last resort to on-campus student residents who have no other place to stay. Students who need to return must follow the travel guidelines below, and must let Housing know of their plans by responding to the form in the Housing portal.
All UCF campuses will remain open for employees reporting to work. Student employees should contact their supervisors for guidance.
Closures and Cancellations
UCF will suspend all campus events starting Saturday, March 14, through at least the spring semester.
New events should not be scheduled. Cancellations include all UCF Athletics events, UCF Celebrates the Arts, Knight-Thon, meetings of student organizations, admissions tours and other academic and recreational meetings and events.
Academic advising offices will remain operational, but advisors will not meet with students in person until further notice. In order to receive advising support, students should call or email their advisor or advising office to schedule an appointment via phone or video conferencing software.
UCF is taking these steps with the safety and wellbeing of our campus community top of mind. It is imperative that you also prioritize your personal safety by practicing good hand hygiene, limiting your contact with others and contacting your healthcare provider immediately in the event you present flu-like symptoms.
This is a dynamic, stressful situation that requires everyone’s continued flexibility and understanding. UCF is committed to regularly sharing information on UCF’s coronavirus website and communicating through email and UCF Alert.
Recreation and Wellness Center
The Recreation and Wellness Center (RWC) and Wellness and Health Promotion Services (WHPS) will close effective March 14.
The closures will last until university emergency management officials clear the UCF community to use RWC and WHPS programs and services again.
To learn more about accessing virtual services offered by the RWC at this time, visit rwc.sdes.ucf.edu/programs/keeping_active.
For the safety of all members of the UCF community in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the university will transition to temporary remote work effective Wednesday for at least two weeks.
On Monday, Human Resources shared more information about implementing remote work. This included a form that employees who will be working remotely will need to complete and send to HR.
In the meantime, those who are prepared to work remotely can begin doing with approval from their supervisor.
Following health officials’ guidance, high-risk employees also should work remotely starting as soon as possible. Those at high risk from COVID-19 include persons age 65 or older; those with chronic illnesses such as hypertension, coronary artery disease and diabetes; pregnancy; and/or immunodeficiency from medications or medical conditions.
With the exception of employees whose jobs cannot be performed remotely, all others should be ready to work remotely starting Wednesday.
The most up-to-date information is available at ucf.edu/safety/coronavirus.
Travel & Study Abroad
Earlier this week, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, and global travel is restricted. Everyone is expected to monitor their health, limit interactions with others, and upon showing symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact their health care provider.
Based on guidance from state and federal officials, UCF is prohibiting all employees’ official university domestic and international travel for the next 30 days. The exception is employee travel between UCF campuses, which remains permitted.
Those with planned university travel will receive an email with guidance on canceling their trip. No Travel Approval Petitions will be approved at this time.
More information about work-related travel is available here: ucf.edu/safety/coronavirus/faq.
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. Personal domestic and international travel by all students and employees is strongly discouraged during this unique time in an effort to best protect you and those around you.
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.
For more information regarding current CDC travel advisories related to COVID-19, visit: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
Protection and Prevention
COVID-19 can be spread among people and animals.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent the virus and no specific treatment.
COVID-19 appears to spread predominantly through coughing and sneezing from infected persons. Individuals in close proximity to such persons, or who contact objects that have been contaminated with the virus, are at risk of illness.
Coronavirus symptoms are generally flu-like and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.
The virus enters our bodies through contact with our eyes, nose and mouth. If your hands become contaminated with the virus, and you touch those areas, you are at risk of becoming ill. Flu-like symptoms — including fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing — are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure. Anyone who has traveled in the past 14 days and is experiencing symptoms should visit their healthcare provider immediately.
While the immediate risk to the American public continues to be low at this time, everyone can take these simple steps to prevent the spread of germs.
These tips are helpful in preventing the spread of respiratory viruses such as COVID-19:
- Avoid shaking hands.
- Wash hands often with soap and water. You should spend at least 10-20 seconds washing. More information about proper hand washing is available at cdc.gov/handwashing.
- As much as possible, avoid touching your face — especially your eyes, nose and mouth — with unwashed hands.
- Be cautious about what you touch, and wash your hands after touching any public surface. Avoid grasping shared surfaces such as door handles, gas pumps, grocery carts, elevator buttons, etc. with your hands. Use your knuckles or hips or a paper towel or disposable glove.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve and clean up immediately.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
- Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer that is greater than 60% alcohol at home and in your car. Use the sanitizer after touching any public object.
- Use disinfectant wipes at stores whenever they are available. Wipe both the handle and child seat of grocery carts.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick, and avoid others if you are sick.
In addition, flu vaccines are highly recommended, as it is flu season. Flu shots are available for free to students at Student Health Services, and employees can also receive the shot there for a cost.
Hand sanitizer stations are available across campus, and UCF is adding more to high-traffic areas on campus to encourage use during flu season.
The most up-to-date information is available at ucf.edu/safety/coronavirus.
The CDC is sharing comprehensive information about COVID-19 here: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. At UCF, anyone with additional questions may call UCF Student Health Services at 407-823-2509. The UCF Police Department, which is staffed 24/7, also is available by calling 407-823-5555.
Students experiencing distress related to the outbreak can reach Counseling and Psychological Services 24/7 by calling 407-823-2811.
UCF employees are encouraged to view the answers to these frequently asked questions.
UCF will continue to monitor COVID-19 and share updates. Remember, the most important precaution you can take is being mindful your personal health by avoiding contact with germs.