We are all concerned about the status of COVID-19 in Central Florida, especially as we prepare to start spring classes on Monday. As physicians and faculty, we want to share information about the virus and UCF’s plan.

We have been living with COVID since March, and the university’s robust contact tracing program has shown no spread of the virus as a result of classroom teaching. Recently, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that habitual mask-wearing, physical distancing and symptom screening are 87 percent effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

That means our protocols on campus are almost as effective as the new COVID vaccine, which has a prevention rate of 94-95 percent. Our actions are working, and we can continue to have good results this semester if we keep them up.

Increasing infections over the holidays are causing the latest jump in hospitalizations and deaths. We are closely monitoring local conditions and will transition to more remote work if these conditions trigger additional on-campus restrictions. In the meantime, it is imperative that we double-down on our efforts to Armor Up.

We have been approved as a vaccination site for faculty, staff and students, and we learned yesterday that we will receive an initial batch of 1,000 doses of vaccine for distribution next week.

The state of Florida’s current executive order allows us to administer the vaccine to our healthcare workers and faculty, staff, and students 65 years of age or older. Details on how to schedule your vaccination appointment are forthcoming, and we also are addressing questions you may have. We have developed a mass vaccination plan that can serve as many as 4,000 per day and are prepared to administer larger quantities as they are made available.

It is important that we all remain diligent and continue wearing masks, physical distancing, handwashing and the other precautions proven to reduce the pandemic’s spread until almost all have received the vaccine.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you have not self-quarantined prior to your return to UCF, consider getting tested to ensure you do not bring the virus back to campus with you.
  • Face coverings are required whenever you are on campus and continue to be distributed at several locations. If you are a UCF student or employee, you’ll get one free, reusable face covering with a valid UCF ID card while supplies last. Those who were on campus in Fall 2020 may pick up one additional face covering this spring.
  • Flu shots continue to be highly encouraged and are a way to reduce the overall burden of respiratory illnesses on the healthcare system.
  • All students, faculty and staff coming to any UCF campus must fill out the COVID Self-Checker each day. This also applies to UCF Housing residents, including on days when they do not leave their unit.

Updates about UCF’s COVID-19 plans and protocols will be shared on the university’s coronavirus website, which has been updated to include details on the student experience, a faculty toolkit and vaccinations.

The UCF COVID Line, 407-823-2509, continues to be the place any students, faculty or staff members who test positive should contact, even if they have not been on campus. Those who would like to be screened for COVID-19 testing in Garage A also should call this number.

Thank you for your cooperation and care for one another.