Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
Armed with three vaccines and a much better understanding of the dynamics of the virus, UF is preparing for its first full fall semester schedule since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The new virus emerged suddenly last year with devastating impact. But remarkably, in less than 10 months, scientists and doctors produced several vaccines that are exceptionally safe and effective against the virus. Fully immunized adults need not wear masks, are unlikely to contract or transmit the virus, and are even less likely to suffer serious illness. The same promises to be true for children, although we still await final approval of the vaccine for very young children.
We urge the entire university community – students, faculty, staff, and their families – to become vaccinated, if they have not already done so. The vaccine is free, readily available, safe, and effective.
The vaccine gives us the ability to restore normal operations to the university this fall, and that is what we will do.
Consequently, we plan for the full blossoming of normal operations in the fall term – in teaching, in research, and in the service and outreach we perform for our state, the nation, and the world.
UF will return to a traditional set of course offerings in the fall, with a healthy mixture of in-person, online, and hybrid classes. We have always had this healthy mixture, even before the pandemic. We will no longer go to great lengths to ensure that every class has an online version. There will be many classes that are only offered in person, and students will need to attend them in person. Again, we encourage every student to be vaccinated for their own protection. An unvaccinated student who contracts the virus or has a significant exposure will not be cleared for campus and will miss classes. Per the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, individuals who have not been fully vaccinated will be directed by the Florida Department of Health to quarantine following a positive test or after exposure from an infected individual. Such students may have to leave campus, return home, and make up class work just as students do when they contract other illnesses, such as flu.
Almost 100% of the people who study and work at UF – students, faculty, and staff – are adults and can therefore be vaccinated. If someone chooses not to be vaccinated, that person is assuming a significant risk of contracting COVID-19. UF cannot be responsible for that risk, given the ready availability of vaccine, and cannot modify the operation of the entire university for a minority of people who may choose not to be vaccinated. We want to be clear on this point because it is important that people understand the potential consequences of their choice.
UF will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic, both locally and nationally. UF will continue to make the vaccine freely available, and we will continue our robust contact tracing program in partnership with the Department of Health. We are always prepared to modify our approach if conditions warrant. But right now, there is reason for optimism that we can restore the rich campus life we enjoyed before the pandemic. Everyone can participate fully when protected by vaccination.
Best wishes for the remainder of Summer 2021!
Joe Glover, Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Charlie Lane, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
D’Andra Mull, Vice President for Student Life
David R. Nelson, M.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF & President, UF Health
David Norton, Vice President for Research
Win Phillips, Chief of Staff, Office of the President