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USF Will Return To 'Pre-COVID' Operations This Fall

Social Distance marker at USF
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
Social Distance marker at USF

USF President Steven Currall announced that the university is planning to fully reopen its three campuses after a summer transition.

The University of South Florida is preparing to fully return to “pre-COVID” operations this fall.

President Steven Currall announced Wednesday that USF will see a transition through the summer, when the number of in-person classes and student activities will significantly increase.

“Over the past several weeks, we've become rather encouraged by the public health data that we've been tracking across each of our three campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, in Sarasota-Manatee, and in the wider community,” said USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.

Wilcox added that he is not sure yet what classrooms, laboratories and other campus activities will look like when it comes to masking and social distancing in the fall.

“My thought is at the moment, whether it's required or not, we are going to see a lot of our students, professors and staff continuing these practices because we will strongly encourage them to do so,” said Wilcox.

The university will also continue to encourage regular handwashing, as well as offer daily symptom checks and sanitizing of high touch areas and spaces.

They will also continue to work with the Morsani College of Medicine to monitor the course of the pandemic.

“This virus that we may not be able to see, it's going to be present in the community at much lower levels of infection rates, but it's still going to be here,” Wilcox said. “And we're going to have to maintain what we refer to as our strict public health surveillance.”

Wilcox is hopeful that increased COVID-19 vaccine availability between now and the fall will alleviate fears and concerns that faculty and staff members have in returning to campus.

He added that the university has a policy for instructors who would like to continue working remotely.

“Through federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, they could request those accommodations and those accommodations include teaching remotely. So they will simply apply as they have done in the past.”

The university plans to continue to offer online, in-person and hybrid classes throughout the summer as they prepare for the fall, but is ready to adapt if necessary.

“We may all of a sudden have to change the course we're on, but no one anticipates that at this point in time,” said Wilcox. “We’re six months away from the opening of fall semester, and that's a lifetime with these viruses.”

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Christina Loizou