Dear campus community,
As we prepare for classes to start next week for the Spring semester, we want to make you aware of some important new information regarding the university’s response to the significant rise in Florida and nationally in cases of COVID-19 due to the omicron variant.
While a spike in COVID-19 cases is already occurring around the country, cases are expected to continue to rise locally throughout early January. However, unlike previous surges, this spike is expected to be relatively short in duration — perhaps no more than two to four weeks. Still, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, reduce the accompanying misery and minimize any long-term health consequences.
Your help is critical to keeping the spike manageable.
First and foremost, since return to campus is imminent, testing is key. We strongly encourage everyone to get tested before returning to campus if they have symptoms or have been in recent contact with someone with COVID-19. If you test positive, please stay home and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for ending isolation. Please note that the return-to-work guidelines for health care workers and health science students will differ from those for the rest of the UF community who do not work in our health care facilities.
All of the services previously provided under UF Health Screen, Test & Protect are still available at UF or through the Florida Department of Health. These services have now been integrated into the existing health infrastructure. As the pandemic evolves, our response to it will evolve as well. Student and employee testing for COVID-19 has been transferred to the Student Health Care Center. Visit UFHealth.org/covid-19-test/locations for a list of additional testing locations. We are prepared to ramp up testing capacity quickly as needed and in fact are already doing so in response to the current situation.
Second, our experts at UF Health tell us your best protection against the omicron variant is to get your booster shot and wear a mask, preferably an N95 or KN95 if available, in indoor public settings. Masks and other supplies are available to faculty and staff through each unit’s HR liaison for use in connection with assigned duties or can be purchased for personal use at Office Depot through the UF GatorPerks program. Disposable masks will continue to be available in locations across campus, including in classrooms, for anyone who may need one; however, campus community members are encouraged to purchase their own KN95 masks.
If you haven’t yet been vaccinated or received a booster, please visit ONE.UF to make an appointment or visit UF Health’s webpage for a list of community vaccination sites.
The omicron variant is yet another new challenge in the pandemic, but we know that if we all pull together as we have before, we can navigate it for a successful Spring semester. Thank you for doing your part.
Joe Glover, Provost and 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, 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