Letter from President Szymanski on Fall Reopening Work Groups
Dear Osprey Community,
In a communication sent to our University community last week, I shared that our focus has turned to planning for a reopening of our campus in the fall with the health and wellness of returning students, faculty, and staff as the main priority.
Four working groups comprised of faculty, staff and students within the University have been created to refine and operationalize our planning based on the five key strategic priorities as outlined by the Florida Board of Governors: A Healthy Campus Environment, A Healthy Community Environment, COVID-19 Virus Testing, Contact Tracing and Surveillance, and Academic Program Delivery.
These working groups are expected to report their preliminary plans by early July. As we have said before, there is the understanding that we will be flexible and adaptive in our plans as recommended practices, policies, and procedures leading up to the start of the fall semester could change.
These groups will work together to develop a thorough and responsible plan to safely reopen our campus in the fall and have recently received input and questions from both the United Faculty of Florida and Faculty Association.
The two health care priority areas of COVID-19 Virus Testing and Contact Tracing and Surveillance will be addressed by one working group as well as with input from a Behavioral Health Surveillance Team and Medical Advisory Group. Other UNF teams working on specialized areas include a COVID-19 Self-Certification Mobile App sub-committee and groups addressing athletics, housing, international, research and creative activity, and other important areas.
In addition, a portal will be created on our website at www.unf.edu/coronavirus for members of the UNF community to provide valuable input.
I want to thank all the task force members for their commitment to helping us define an operational strategic plan to safely return to our campus in the fall and for your ongoing patience and support as we continue to work together.
David M. Szymanski
Dear Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Greater Osprey Community:
It has been some two months since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our daily lives. Throughout this challenging time, the University of North Florida community has shown tremendous strength.
I am extremely proud of our faculty, who successfully transitioned courses to remote learning and continued their steadfast commitment to teaching excellence. The faculty demonstrated tremendous spirit, remarkable adaptiveness, and phenomenal dedication to ensure the success and wellbeing of our students.
I am also extremely proud of our students, who persevered through unprecedented challenges to finish the spring semester strong. As I have conveyed to students during virtual graduations and during my many Zoom meetings with them, they are courageous. They have shown unparalleled courage and resiliency in not only persevering, but also thriving academically and personally during this pandemic. They have realized important goals of completing the semester, and for many of our seniors and graduate students, they have completed their education with an Osprey degree in hand.
I would further like to thank every member of the Osprey community, from parents to alumni to donors, for your continued dedication to our students, to one another, and to our wonderful institution.
As we have completed the spring semester and have transitioned to summer, our focus turns to planning for a return to campus in the fall. We are coordinating our planning efforts closely with local, state, and federal officials, as well as the Florida Board of Governors.
As we have done at every stage of this crisis, our reopening plans will be conducted thoughtfully and carefully with the health and wellness of returning students, faculty, and staff as our top priority. The valued input of students, faculty, and staff will continue to be critical to the success of our strategy of continuity in education and safety of our Osprey family.
Earlier today, State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser III presented the detailed blueprint on reopening Florida’s public universities to the Board of Governors. These guidelines highlighted five key strategic priorities, including:
- A Healthy Campus Environment
- A Healthy Community Environment
- COVID-19 Virus Testing
- Contact Tracing and Surveillance
- Academic Program Delivery
Based on these strategic themes, I have asked my executive leadership team to create five distinct COVID-19 working groups to develop operational strategies and action plans to address the five priority areas. These essential teams will be comprised of faculty, students, administrators, and staff, all of whom will work together to ensure a thoughtful and responsible approach to safely reopening our campus in the fall.
Our underlying philosophy of continuity and safety will also emphasize a philosophy of shared responsibility for the safety of our students, staff, and faculty. Finally, there is the understanding that we will be flexible and adaptive in our plans as recommended practices, policies, and procedures leading up to the start of the fall semester change.
Over the next few weeks, we will be developing and sharing our initial operational strategies with the UNF Board of Trustees (June 8), the Florida Board of Governors (June 23) and our greater Osprey community. In parallel, our COVID-19 working groups will begin the challenging work of creating specific plans needed to reopen as safely and as efficiently as possible.
I want to thank you all for your patience, commitment, and support in the face of continued uncertainty. We are one Osprey family, and together we will emerge better, stronger.
With all my best wishes for your continued safety and health,
David M. Szymanski