TAMPA (WFLA) – The University of South Florida today announced changes to its Fall 2020 academic calendar to prioritize the health of students, faculty and staff and mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.

USF plans to hold face to face classes in the fall, however, after Thanksgiving, all classes and final exams will be delivered in an online format.

The adjustments will reduce the number of students, faculty and staff who would normally come back to USF campuses and the surrounding communities within the Tampa Bay region following Thanksgiving.

“The University of South Florida’s commitment since the beginning of the COVID-19 challenge has been to make decisions regarding university operations that prioritize the health and safety of our community members,” USF President Steven Currall said.  “These modifications are intended to avoid potentially thousands of students, faculty and staff from returning after holiday travel.”

USF students tell 8 On Your Side they agree with the president’s decision.

“As of right now I think it’s a good idea because I know a lot of people leave for Thanksgiving,” USF senior, Ari Pereda said.

“It’s a week before finals so it’s not that extreme to me because it’s really just going to be review at that point,” USF senior, Natalie Charlton said.

Below is USF’s adjusted fall calendar:

ORIGINAL NEW

First Day of Fall Semester                     Aug. 24                                    Aug. 24

Last Day of Classes on Campus            Dec. 4                                      Nov. 25

Thanksgiving Break                             Nov. 26-27                               Nov. 26-27

Classes Only Online                              N/A                                          Nov. 30-Dec. 4

Final Exams                                          Dec. 5-10                                  Dec. 5-10 (online only)

Last Day of Fall Semester                    Dec. 10                                     Dec. 10

Though classes won’t be held on Labor Day or Veterans Day, travel around each holiday will be discouraged.

Residence halls and dining options will remain open after Thanksgiving break for students who need access until the end of the fall semester.

USF’s fall commencement ceremonies are scheduled to begin on Dec. 11, however, plans are still being developed with considerations to the safety of traveling back to campus and guidance from federal, state, and local government and public health officials regarding resuming large events.

USF plans to make further announcements on the fall semester in June.

The news comes as the State University System’s task force has been working for several weeks now on a framework to reopen university campuses for fall and have public meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 28.

After that, universities will be asked to develop individual plans based on the guidelines. Universities will present their plans to the Board of Governors on June 23.

The state university system blueprint for reopening campuses draft can be read here.

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