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USF reports positive COVID-19 cases ahead of fall semester, taking steps to keep everyone safe

Posted at 6:48 AM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 07:31:03-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The University of South Florida is preparing for the start of the school year.

Ahead of the fall semester, USF has been tracking COVID-19 cases in students and staff. So far, the university reports more than 100 positive COVID-19 cases in students, and more then 40 positive COVID-19 cases in employees.

USF says it will continue to inform the community every time it’s notified of a new case.

The university has a new testing procedure in place. Officials say a certain group of students and staff will have to get tested for COVID-19 prior to the start of the fall semester. That includes student athletes and people living in residential housing.

There will also be random sampling of students, faculty and staff.

Leaders say you can refuse random testing, but you may be asked to self isolate and be subject to disciplinary action.

USF just moved into a modified version of phase two of its reopening plan. That means the university will offer hybrid courses for students, no more than 50% of employees will be allowed on campus at any given time, and residence halls will open with new health and safety procedures.

Students will start moving into residence halls between August 16 - 20.

Leaders say the decision to move to the next phase will be based on the ability to meet specific criteria to avoid negative impacts to the university community.

According to officials, this has been the busiest summer on record for staff getting ready for students.

Leaders say they’ve invested significant time, energy, and financial resources into reopening.

Students and staff should expect to see several changes when they return to campus. Here’s what to expect:

  • Beginning in the fall, everyone coming to campus must complete a daily symptom check through a digital platform.
  • Officials say they’ve completely reconfigured buildings for physical distancing and limited class sizes.
  • Many doors, stairwells and hallways are now one-way, and automatic doors were installed where feasible.
  • The university turned off water fountains and adapted bathrooms.
  • Elevators will operate on a limited capacity, with no more than two people at a time.
  • Each classroom will be stocked with hand sanitizer and the school has implemented enhanced cleaning protocols.
  • USF will provide one reusable face mask and one neck buffer to everyone at the beginning of the semester.
  • There are now nearly 48,000 signs reminding people of safety precautions.
  • Hand sanitizer vending machines are now available on campuses, giving two free bottles of hand sanitizer spray every 30 days.

Leaders say there will be zero tolerance and serious consequences for people who don’t comply and jeopardize the health of others.

The fall semester starts on August 24.