State universities instructed to extend online classes to end of Spring

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Update from President O’Shea:

“Dear Members of the New College Community,

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at New College.

As Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced this morning, that unfortunately is not the case elsewhere. At the University of Florida, at least one student contracted the virus during Spring Break and transmitted it to other students upon returning. In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the State University System Board of Governors (BOG) has instructed all state universities including New College of Florida to extend online classes to the end of the spring semester. Face-to-face classes will not resume until next August. The BOG also cancelled in-person Commencement ceremonies in May. This includes ours which had been scheduled on May 15.

The Governor also requested that universities require students to vacate residence halls to the maximum extent possible. This mandate nullifies the exceptions we had granted to a limited number of students to continue to live in residence. Accordingly, all New College students who As a reminder, students who remained in the residence halls for spring break and are able to go home or to another location must leave the residence halls by noon on Friday, March 20. Students (such as international students who are subject to travel restrictions), who have a compelling cause keeping them from adhering to this requirement should go to the Student Affairs Office in HC-1 to appeal for an exemption. If you do not receive express approval by Thursday, 5 PM from Student Affairs to remain on campus, you must leave. Students facing financial barriers to returning home can apply for assistance from the Student Emergency Fund, managed by Regina Rodarte in Student Affairs.

I recognize how massively inconvenient these actions are, and deeply regret their necessity. But there is ample reason to believe that they will save lives.

In the coming days and weeks, we will sort out the ramifications of these actions such as having students retrieve belongings and alternatives to the May Commencement (postponement, virtual, streaming, etc.) for this year’s graduating class.

In addition to securing the health of our extended community, our primary goal is to make sure that every student is able to successfully complete this semester (and, in the case of seniors, to graduate). The Office of the Provost will email information to faculty about additional resources and technological assistance to help them teach the remainder of their spring courses and tutorials online.

Currently, the Jane Bancroft Cook Library is only open to New College and USF faculty, staff, and students, who must present an ID for admittance.

The Campus Police Department is responding to calls for service 24 hours a day/7 days a week, but asks that community members avoid coming to the police department lobby unless it is an emergency. Please call the front desk dispatcher at 941-487-4210 from any blue phone or your cell phone to speak with a dispatcher, an officer or any of the department staff members.

Administrative departments remain open, but supervisors should speak with their staff to determine alternative ways to maintain services to the campus, including telework (work from home), flexible hours, and virtual meetings to limit face-to-face interaction as much as possible. Please review the Employee Guidance FAQs (see below) for more information, and remember that you can forward your office phone to your cell or home phone by following the instructions in our Telephone Quick Reference Guide.

Please be safe, follow general flu protection guidelines, and take care of one another. Among other things, this means washing your hands frequently with soap and water, practicing social distancing, and acting as if you have contracted the virus and desperately do not want to transmit it.

Lastly, in these challenging times, you might want to read the column written by New College alumna and staff member Abby Weingarten about the last time our campus pulled together in the face of a national crisis on September 11, 2001.

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