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USF, State Universities Moving Classes Online Due To Coronavirus Fears

Man stands at a podium with people behind him while adressing reporters
Thomas Iacobucci
WUSF Public Media
University of South Florida President Steve Currall announced Wednesday that USF is joining other state universities in transitioning to online course instruction to lessen the risk of the spread of coronavirus.

All Florida public universities, including the University of South Florida, will transition to online course instruction to lessen the risk of coronavirus.

The Florida Board of Governors announced the change will take place “as soon as possible.” At USF, classes will meet as scheduled through Friday. Then, students go on spring break before returning to a lot of changes.

“Students who are travelling for spring break next week should plan not to return to campus for at least two weeks following,” said USF System President Steve Currall. “Students who had not been planning to travel for spring break should make plans to return home if possible."

Students who are unable to return home will be allowed to stay in campus residence halls. But they are also being encouraged not to gather in large groups while there.

READ MORE: Latest On Coronavirus: Online Classes For Public Universities, And Other Updates

After spring break, all USF classes will be conducted remotely through at least April 5.

Man stands at podium with another man and woman behind him.
Credit Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said that classes will continue as normal through the rest of the week. After spring break next week, there will be at least two weeks of online classes for students.

“Throughout that time, we will be assessing the situation, certainly ready to continue those courses remotely throughout the remainder of the spring semester,” said USF Provost Ralph Wilcox.

Finals could also be conducted remotely if online learning is extended beyond April 5, said Wilcox. The spring semester ends April 29, with finals taking place May 2-7.

Currall said that no plans have been made to postpone or cancel commencement exercises, which are scheduled for May 7-11 on all three campuses.

Campuses will remain open and many normal university operations will continue, like Student Health Services and USF Health clinical operations.

However, all university-sponsored events on campus, at other USF instructional sites or off campus for the next 30 days will be postponed or canceled.  Athletic events will be addressed in the near future.

The university will continue updating students, faculty, and staff through a coronavirus web page.

Woman stands at podium while addressing crowd with two men behind her.
Credit Thomas Iacobucci / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Donna Petersen, Dean of the USF College of Public Health, said that a dozen or fewer USF students and faculty who were in high risk countries have been asked to self-quarantine.

Other universities that join USF with students currently or about to go on spring break are 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 and the University of West Florida.

Universities that have taken spring break already and have students currently on campus are being told to implement a process to transition to remote instruction immediately and encourage students to return home for at least two weeks, according to the Florida Board of Governors.

The universities in this scenario are Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida Polytechnic University, and the University of Florida.

This is a developing story. Stay with WUSF for updates.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.
Thomas Iacobucci is the WUSF visual news intern for the fall 2019 semester. He is currently a senior at University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where he is completing his bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Digital Communication.
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