May 1: Next Steps for Our University
As the spring semester nears its end, we would like to express our gratitude for all that you have done and continue to do in support of the University of Florida community. While it will be some time until our campus returns to a more normal status, we will soon be taking the first steps in that direction, guided by the world-class physicians and epidemiologists at UF Health.
Within guidelines set by local and state officials and the Florida Board of Governors, we expect to start bringing more faculty and staff back and opening up more parts of campus over the coming weeks. This transition will be conducted thoughtfully and carefully with the health and safety of returning faculty and staff being the top priority. UF Health will monitor the process of reopening campus and today will announce a test-and-trace program aimed at identifying, isolating, and mitigating any campus incidence of COVID-19.
More guidance about this gradual return to campus will be forthcoming.
You may have seen reports about Tuesday’s meeting of UF’s Board of Trustees in which we discussed financial impacts of the current crisis. We estimate that the university will see $42 million less revenue during the spring and summer semesters, with additional impacts being felt by our hospitals and other university entities. Those losses do not anticipate what might happen this fall, nor what might happen to our state appropriations if economic activity and sales tax revenues continue to decline.
As you would expect, the university is considering a variety of measures aimed at ensuring short- and long-term financial health, and we will keep you updated as decision are reached.
This week, the trustees unanimously approved a retirement incentive for staff as one cost-saving measure, which will reintroduce for a brief time a sick leave payment for TEAMS staff with 10 or more years of service who retire on or before September 30, 2020, as long as they provide notice by June 30. UF Human Resources will share more details about the incentive plan soon.
Finally, we are focused intently on how the university will operate this fall. Our goals are to re-energize the research enterprise, to serve those students who need to be on campus to make appropriate academic progress and to have appropriate groups of faculty and staff return to campus under the advice and guidance of medical experts and in close coordination with the rest of the State University System. The Board of Trustees has approved moving the first day of instruction for the fall semester from August 24 to August 31 to provide more time for the campus to prepare for the return of students. This will not affect faculty appointments.
We expect to announce plans for the fall semester by mid-July. Planning efforts are guided by our recovery planning strategy, a multi-faceted model for aligning UF’s response to COVID-19-related challenges with its short- and long-term recovery needs. A task force of campus leaders charged with developing this framework includes representatives from UF Health, the President’s cabinet, campus academic leaders and others who will address these important issues. More information about our institutional planning can be found here: http://www.ufl.edu/health-updates/institutional-recovery-strategy/
In the weeks ahead, we expect that federal, state and local leaders will regularly update the guidelines under which we all operate. UF will develop, implement and continually refine our own health- and science-driven plans over the coming months to thoughtfully and gradually return to more normal campus activity within those government guidelines.
Again, thank you for all that you are doing, and we pledge to regularly communicate with you as we advance the university’s plans for summer and fall.