LAKE MARY, Fla. - The Board of Governors for the State University System of Florida is directing all universities in the state to implement a plan in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to include remote instruction for students over a two week period.
The measure, effective immediately, was announced in a statement released by the board on Wednesday afternoon. However, each university will determine the timing of the plan. The University of Florida and Florida State University are beginning the process this week.
"First and foremost, the health and safety of students within the State University System is our top priority. As we have continued to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus it has become clear that to protect the students and the residents of our state, proactive rather than reactive guidance to universities is necessary," the statement read.
Under the plan, campuses will remain open and operations will continue, with some adjustments determined by each university. All schools will make plans to transition to remote instruction as soon as possible.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that asking instructors to prepare for online classes is “the prudent thing to do.”
“I think we are preparing to see more (CODIV-19) cases,” the governor told reporters at a press conference in the Capitol. “So I think it is prudent for them to do it and then they can reassess in real-time as we go.”
State universities with students who have returned from spring break should implement a process to transition to remote instruction immediately and encourage students to return home for at least two weeks, the board said. Each university will provide detailed information about the earliest possible time regarding this transition. This includes Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida Polytechnic University, and the University of Florida.
State universities with students who are currently on spring break or about to be on break should direct their students to NOT return to campus for at least two weeks following the conclusion of spring break. This includes students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, the University of North Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, and the University of West Florida.
All universities will continue to provide essential services, such as dining, counseling, health services, library services, etc., potentially on a limited basis or remotely. Each university with clinical and other non-classroom based programs will communicate directly with those students, the board said.
"While students are encouraged to remain off-campus, each university should develop a plan for providing residential accommodations for students who need assistance or must remain in place," the statement read.
The State University System of Florida said this directive will be reevaluated as the board consults with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about guidelines about COVID-19.
Several universities have responded to this direction by the Board of Governors for the State University System of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
The University of Central Florida (UCF) said that they will move to remote instruction starting Monday, March 16 to minimize health and safety risks to the students and faculty of the community.
"I thought it was fake, but then I found out it was for real," said UCF student Diana Perez after hearing the announcement.
"It’s been kind of snowballing. It’s a good thing to stop the spread of the virus, but it’s a little frustrating because a lot of people are going to be affected," added UCF student Max Gebhart.
This will last for at least two weeks and students should not come back to campus during those two weeks, they said. The campuses will remain for employees though and they are expected to keep working.
UCF Student Shawn Livermore said, "I don’t understand what they’re thinking, I really don’t. because we need to go to school and you can get this virus anywhere so it doesn’t make any sense."
More information and the latest updates on the coronavirus safety at UCF can be found on their website.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
University of Florida officials earlier this week advised that faculty would be shifting from in-person to online instruction. In a tweet on Wednesday, UF President Kent Fuchs encouraged students to return home through March 30.
More information and the latest updates on the coronavirus safety at UF can be found on their website.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
Florida State University (FSU) said that they will shift from in-person classes to online classes starting Monday, March 23 for at least two weeks. The university will remain open and in-person classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6.
More information and the latest updates on the coronavirus safety at FSU can be found on their website.
FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY
Florida A&M University said that they will also shift to online and other non-face-to-face instructional methods for at least two weeks following Spring Break. This will begin Monday, March 23 and will go until Saturday, April 4. Students who leave campus during Spring break are strongly encouraged not to return to campus before Saturday, April 4, they said. Residence halls and food service will stay open for students who remain on campus.
More information and the latest updates on the coronavirus safety at Florida A&M can be found on their website.
BETHUNE COOKMAN UNIVERSITY
Bethune Cookman University is instructing students to note return from spring break and that online instruction will last for at least two weeks following the break. The University will remain open and staff workers will follow health protocols designed to minimize the health risks on campus. The University has also reportedly started a deep cleaning of on-campus buildings.
Those with more questions should call the Bethune Cookman University hotline at 1-800-781-9104.
SANTA FE COLLEGE
Sante Fe College in Gainesville said they are preparing to move instruction online but is still open at this time. They want to assure students that they are vigilant in cleaning high touch, high traffic areas. They also said that any student, faculty, or staff member who traveled to China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, or Japan will not be permitted on any Sante Fe campus or center and must self-quarantine for 14 days. Those who have been in close contact with anyone who has traveled to those countries showed also self-quarantine.
SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY
Saint Leo University said that they will move to online classes for their education centers across the United States to avoid the spread of coronavirus starting Monday, March 16. Those at the Pasco County campus are instructed not to return from spring break. Online classes for the Gainesville and Ocala campus will start Monday, March 23.
The Monteverde Academy said that they are delaying the opening of school following Spring Break until Monday, April 13. Classes will resume with virtual classes starting Monday, March 23.
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