Statement of the USF Chapter of the United Faculty of Florida Concerning USF and the COVID-19 Crisis
On Friday, August 27, the Chapter unanimously approved the following statement.
The University of South Florida faces an emergency as a surge in COVID-19 infections poses a real danger to members of the USF Community.
Action is imperative to protect the USF community, but not only has the State of Florida failed to mandate protective measures, it has irresponsibly and possibly illegally barred institutions and local authorities from acting. The Florida SUS Board of Governors and the USF Board of Trustees should assume their constitutional responsibility to protect students, staff, and faculty - even if it means litigation - and we demand that the USF Administration takes these minimal steps:
- The USF Public Dashboard reports a surge in cases among students, staff, and faculty since late July.
- Over the past month, in Hillsborough County alone, the daily average cases have increased fourfold while hospital admissions have increased fivefold and the positivity has increased threefold.
- The Florida Department of Health reports that only 47% of college-age residents have been vaccinated, while the number of new cases has increased fifteen-fold in the last two months.
- During the previous week, Florida experienced more COVID-19 deaths than any other state and more cases than any state besides Texas - more than three times as many as California and nearly three times as many as New York.
COVID-19 is dangerous, and members of the USF community are at risk. We must act now.
- Mandate universal vaccination for all students, staff, and faculty (except for valid exceptions).
- Require all members of the USF community to wear masks when indoors (save for valid exceptions).
- Require weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated individuals with quarantine measures for those who test positive.
- Upgrade ventilation and air conditioning systems with filters, UF scrubbers, and other anti-contagion features.
- Allow instructional faculty the discretion to move to online course delivery.
- Ensure that every class held F2F must be in a room or space large enough for social distancing.
- Publicly disclose criteria for decision-making on health and safety on campus. These criteria should be at least comparably rigorous to those of the CDC.
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USF United Support Fund for Food Pantries
Many of our students are struggling during this crisis, and the USF Foundation is supporting the USF Food Pantries to help out. They are accepting non-perishable donations, but one can also make monetary donations for the pantries at St. Petersburg, Sarasota / Manatee, and Tampa.