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March 29

Letter from President Szymanski

Dear Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Greater Osprey Community:


We are experiencing extraordinary circumstances that have impacted all of our daily lives in many ways. The impact on the University of North Florida has also been unprecedented. UNF has been and will continue to be highly responsive to the needs of our Osprey family. The University has rapidly implemented a multitude of changes to ensure the health and safety of our community and the continued success of our students. Our commitment to student success is unwavering, and we continue to do everything in our power to support students regardless of the unique challenges we and our students are facing.


As we enter our second week of remote instruction, I want to update you on some of the new and enhanced measures we have taken in critical areas, including academic continuity, student well-being, housing, and financial assistance.

Academic Continuity

Thanks to the strong passion, commitment, and support of our faculty, administration, and our great students, we have successfully transitioned to remote learning for the spring semester. We are preparing to do the same for the upcoming summer A and C semesters.


Continuity of instruction and academic support during this challenging time provides stability for our students and ensures they remain on track to complete their coursework and successfully progress toward degree completion. UNF’s key academic continuity efforts have included:


  • Full transition of remote instruction, including live sessions, to Zoom and Canvas.
  • Outstanding commitment by faculty to effectively communicate with students, leverage technology, deliver course content, and assess student learning.
  • Continued academic support through remote tutoring, peer-assisted success programs, supplemental instruction, and academic advising.
  • Development of an optional grading system for the spring semester to give students final grade choices during this challenging and stressful time.
  • Virtual academic coaching, workshops, and persistence advocacy teams to support continued student success.
  • Successful remote transition of critical resources, including the writing center, library, and career services.
  • Continued technology (ITS Help Desk) support to ensure successful remote connection and collaboration, including assistance with internet access, hardware, and software issues.

Student Well-Being

At UNF, we view the health and safety of our Osprey family as our top priority. In addition to the physical health risks associated with COVID-19, we also recognize the emotional toll this pandemic may have on students. Therefore, partners across the university are providing essential services to ensure student well-being:


  • Student Health Services continues to serve the health needs of our student community by offering telehealth consultations, office appointments, and COVID-19 resources and education.
  • The Counseling Center has transitioned to remote phone and/or video call appointments and is available to provide phone support 24-hours a day / 7-days a week.
  • The Disability Resource Center continues to assist students remotely with accommodation concerns, testing barriers, and assistive technology.
  • Osprey Life and Productions is holding virtual events online and through social media including virtual trivia, virtual Twisted Tuesday craft nights, movie watch parties, and more.
  • Recreation and Wellness is offering podcasts, virtual classes, and at-home workout routines.
  • The Dean of Students Office is providing ongoing services and support for students experiencing unstable housing situations.

Housing

To protect the health and well-being of our students, UNF has significantly reduced the resident population on campus, worked to accommodate those with extenuating circumstances, and developed refunding plans to all those affected. Our key measures have included:


  • Strongly encouraging students who were away for spring break and/or residing off campus to not return to campus.
  • Strongly encouraging students who were still living in university housing to return to their permanent home residences or a non-campus alternative housing arrangement, for the remainder of the semester as safety conditions permit.
  • Accommodating those with extenuating circumstances and working with students who are unable to safely return home during this time period.
  • Ensuring that all personal belongings left behind by students are secured until such time it is deemed appropriate to return to campus.
  • Providing to-go dining services (breakfast, lunch and dinner) at the Osprey Café for those remaining on campus.
  • Implementing a Student Refund Plan for all students who have paid or have been assessed housing charges for the spring semester and have vacated campus housing.
  • Actively working with our dining services vendor to determine the details and process of refunding unused dining plan credits.

Financial Relief

UNF recognizes the unique financial burdens that may have been created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the University has taken the following actions to help address several challenges faced by students:


  • The UNF Foundation and Student Government have partnered to create the UNF Student Emergency Relief Fund, which will provide immediate financial assistance to currently enrolled students most in need.
  • Student Government’s Lend-A-Wing pantry is providing “to go” meals for students experiencing food insecurity.
  • Student Government and administration are actively partnering to identify other forms of immediate and future financial assistance.
  • Development teams in academic and student affairs are exploring a variety of grants that could provide additional financial assistance.
  • Human Resources and departments across the University are identifying opportunities for OPS/Student (including Federal Work Study) employees to work remotely if appropriate given their job functions and with supervisory approval.
  • Human Resources is also providing guidance to OPS and student employees unable to work from home regarding new federal legislation, including unemployment benefits and alternative income options.

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses and we collectively learn more, UNF will continue to develop new and innovative initiatives to help our students succeed in the classroom and progress toward their degree. We are blessed with highly dedicated faculty and staff who are working tirelessly to ensure that all the needs of our students are being met. Some of the initiatives will take time to implement, some will need to be adapted even more as situations change, and some will be implemented immediately. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the many issues arising daily as we navigate a very unprecedented and uncertain situation. Rest assured, we have the health and well-being of each student at the center of our decision making. We are one Osprey family, and together, we will get through these challenging times!


With all my best wishes for your continued safety and health,

Szymanski Signature

David M. Szymanski

President





March 27

Housing and Dining Refunds for Spring 2020 Semester

Housing 

UNF will implement a Student Refund Plan for all students who have paid or have been assessed housing charges for the Spring 2020 semester and have vacated (or are immediately vacating) campus housing. Residence hall costs will be prorated through March 23, 2020 for all of these students, with the exception of The Flats at UNF. Flats residents who have vacated (or are immediately vacating) will be released from their housing contract for the remainder of contract terms.


Refunds will be provided through UNF Student Financial Services. To expedite the refund process, please ensure that your direct deposit is set up through your e-Refunds account, which can be accessed through the My UNF Bill tile in UNF myWings. If no direct deposit is established, a refund check will be mailed to your address on file. Students who have outstanding balances with the University will have this amount deducted before the refund is disbursed. We are currently anticipating 2-4 weeks for refunds to be sent and/or credited.


Residents with extenuating circumstances and written approval to stay in residential housing through the end of the semester will not receive a housing refund.


Residents who have personal belongings remaining in residence halls will have their items secured at no cost until it is safe for them to return to campus.

Dining

University administration is actively working with our dining services vendor to determine the details and process of refunding unused dining plan credits. Please stay tuned for more details as soon as they become available.


We thank you for your patience as we work through the refund process, and we hope these efforts will help ease some of your stress during this challenging time. All students should continue to monitor alerts and  unf.edu/coronavirus for university-wide updates, including resources and FAQs.




March 26

Spring 2020 Semester Grading Policy

Dear Ospreys,


I know this is a stressful time, and many of you have expressed the desire for an alternative grading system that recognizes this unique situation. As such, Student Government, faculty, and university administration have collaborated to produce a “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” grading system for the Spring 2020 semester, which you will be able to select on a course-by-course basis. More information about how to make this selection will be sent to your UNF email in the next week.


If you choose to opt-in to this alternative grading system, you will be eligible to keep all A’s and B’s. All C’s will be converted to Satisfactory (S) and all D’s and F’s will be reported as Unsatisfactory (U). The S/U designations will not factor into your GPA, and the period in which you can select this grading option will be April 6 through April 20. If you do opt-in to the alternate system for a particular course, you cannot later revert to the normal grading scale of A, B, C, D, and F. Faculty will not be informed about which students have selected the alternate grading scheme.


Please remember that the decision to use the alternative grading system is an important one, and one which you are strongly encouraged to discuss with your academic advisor and instructors before making your choice. You should also be aware that some professional schools, graduate programs, and other institutions could require letter grades on your transcript for certain courses.


Please note that you can still take any or all of your classes for a traditional letter grade. If you want to stay with the regular grading scheme, no further action will be necessary.


In addition to the alternative grading system, we are extending the Withdrawal deadline to April 17. Withdrawals have consequences as well, so please make sure to talk to your advisor before making any decisions.


Your health and well-being is our number one priority, and we hope these efforts will help ease some of your stress during this challenging time. More detailed information and updates will be available soon on the Undergraduate Studies website and at unf.edu/coronavirus. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your academic advisor.


Thanks,


Simon Rhodes

Provost and VP Academic Affairs




Past Updates