ORLANDO, Fla. – Members of three sororities on the campus of the University of Central Florida have been asked to quarantine after residents in the chapter houses tested positive for COVID-19, according to university officials.
Assistant Vice President of UCF Communications Chad Binette said on Tuesday that sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha, Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Epsilon Phi who live in their respective sorority houses were asked to quarantine in response to the positive cases.
“Due to a small number of positive COVID-19 cases involving residents of three sororities with on-campus houses, the university placed residents of the houses on a two-week quarantine out of concern for their health and well-being and to reduce the potential for additional spread of the virus,” Binette said in a statement.
Members of Zeta Tau Alpha and Kappa Alpha Theta were asked to quarantine on Friday, while those who live in the Alpha Epsilon Phi house were asked to begin their quarantine on Sunday, according to the university.
A total of 79 women live in the three houses.
During the mandatory quarantine period, residents are asked to stay mostly in their rooms, university officials said. However, chapter members are allowed to pick up food deliveries and other necessary items from the house entrance but must wear face coverings and practice social distancing while outside their rooms.
Binette said the university’s Student Care Services department has reached out to those who are quarantined to ask if they need help with getting food or other services during their quarantine period.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said the number of houses and individuals asked to quarantine could grow.
“That number can continue to increase. It could be up to five of those houses and that will include the residents and the staff that work in some of those houses, as well as some visitors and some activities, social activities that the students are taking on,” Pino said.
Campus leaders, including UCF President Dr. Alexander Cartwright, held virtual meetings Saturday with each of the four student Greek Leadership Councils about the importance of all students following the school’s COVID-19 protocols and about ways the university can support the leadership councils in their efforts to do so.
In a letter sent Saturday to UCF’s Greek community, Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Services Dr. Maribeth Ehasz said campus officials have been made aware of social events put on by Greek organizations “that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 to other UCF community members, friends or family members” and have the potential to be “super spreader events."
Ehasz said chapters' futures on campus rely on their members' commitment to following the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines laid out by the university.
The text of the full letter can be read here:
"Chapter Officers, Council Leaders, Advisors, and Members,
I am writing to let you know that two chapters in Greek Park were placed under quarantine yesterday evening. This pandemic has changed the way we must behave to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Your actions will determine how successful our on-campus experience will be at UCF.
In addition to the events related to these quarantines, it seems that other chapters have had social events that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 to other UCF community members, friends, or family members. These types of gatherings can be super spreader events and have led to other universities around the country to move to remote instruction.
The return to in-person classes and activities — as well as the ability for attendance at football games, concerts and other events our students enjoy — is dependent on all of you taking COVID-19 seriously. This means following guidelines and university policies, wearing protective face coverings, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding unapproved or prohibited gatherings on and off-campus.
If members of the Greek community are not able to follow these guidelines, our entire campus community will be impacted, with very real consequences. Those consequences include your chapter’s future at UCF, but they are also potential impacts on fellow students and their families and the UCF you love.
You have received clear instructions on the guidelines that have been adopted by the university to ensure that every member of the UCF community takes necessary precautions. All guidelines associated with COVID-19 health and safety protocols must be followed as outlined in UCF’s policies related to COVID-19 and student behavior.
Through the contact tracing process, which you are required to cooperate with, UCF will be in direct contact with students about any possible exposure and required next steps. The CDC has shared more detailed guidance about what it means to safely quarantine and isolate.
Many are watching our university and our students. You can be proactive, and your actions matter.
Dr. Maribeth Ehasz
Student Development & Enrollment Services"
In July, a New York Times Report ranked the University of Central Florida No. 2 on its list of colleges and universities reporting confirmed coronavirus cases. In the report, the school had only missed the No. 1 spot by 11 cases. At that time, UCF had reported 438 cases and the University of Texas Austin led the charge with 449 cases. Click here for an updated look at the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases at UCF.
For more information on how UCF is handling the pandemic, visit the university’s coronavirus resources page here.