ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The University of Central Florida is getting ready for the fall semester and to make sure they do it in a safe way the COVID-19 task force recently presented their recommendations to the board of trustees in Orange County.
“Our survey shows a strong majority of students, they wanna be on campus, they really do,” Dr. Michael Deichen, Chief Medical Officer for UCF’s COVID-19 task force said. “It’s gonna look different when we say ‘come back to the campus’ not only with everyone wearing face coverings but there will be quite a few classes that will still be online.”
Dr. Deichen said the reopening plan for fall consists of limiting the number of occupants inside classrooms and in dorms, as well as collaborating with the Florida Department of Health with contact tracing.
“We’re gonna identify 10 student volunteers and they’re gonna work directly with the epidemiologist at Orange County to help with contact tracing,” Deichen said. “It’s a lot of work when you follow through, you have a case that’s positive sometimes there are six, eight, 20 phone calls are necessary.”
An app will also be required for all students, faculty, and staff to use every day when they go on campus. The app screens for recent travel to high-risk COVID-19 areas and will ask if there was exposure to a person with the virus.
"If someone does that screening and is positive, it'll link 'em up with testing," Deichen said.
Dr. Deichen said there will be some leniency in terms of the face masks. While outside for a lunch break or a walk, and as long as you're not at close proximity to someone else, it's ok to take it off for a breath of fresh air.
There will also be random screening done.
“We’re gonna screen randomly some other persons on a voluntary basis for the presence of the COVID. So, we have this matrix of public health approaches to measure how much COVID’s on campus and then to quickly react to that,” Deichen said.
All UCF athletes and students living on campus will have to take a COVID-19 test.
If the results are positive, the students will be placed in isolation. Deichen said rooms have been separated for those cases and students will be provided food and get assistance with their classes during their isolation. The task force said in order for the reopening plan to be effective, everyone has to do their part not just when they are on campus.
"The hope is that we can create a culture of responsibility for all of us; that when we're off-campus, we're gonna do the right thing. It's just not smart not to wear facial covering. We're in this together, let's all do it," Deichen said.
Dr. Marcia Katz, a medical professor and associate dean for clinical affairs at UCF said the reopening plan is dynamic. She said it’s imperative for face masks to be worn at all times, continue to wash your hands, and maintain six feet apart.
"It is a two-way street and all of us members of the UCF community have to be vigilant of these parameters," Katz said.
Next Tuesday UCF will present its recommendations to the board of governors and the state surgeon general. It will be their decision to endorse UCF’s reopening plan. UCF says if there is noncompliance by a faculty, staff member, or a student who does not want to wear a face mask, it could be grounds for disciplinary action.