Dear USF Community,
While our beautiful campus is still relatively quiet and we are a community dispersed, I am heartened and inspired by the connections being forged and strengthened as we engage remotely in our work, study, and scholarship. You and your families remain in my prayers, especially this holy week as many of us celebrate Passover or prepare for Easter.
Even as we are at a physical distance from each other right now, remember that your health, safety, and well-being are the university’s highest priorities. That includes how you are managing the uncertainty and anxiety that accompanies the events unfolding during the global pandemic.
Since the onset of this crisis, USF has engaged in careful monitoring, assessment, planning, and execution. With input from the community, we are mapping out a number of scenarios and are prepared to act depending on what happens with mitigation and under the direction from our mayor and our governor. We have established several new university working groups that have been preparing these scenarios and making recommendations to me and my cabinet about next steps. We obviously do not know what the future holds, but our plans include a timeline of key dates and possible options for pivoting and addressing events as they occur. Next steps depend on national and global developments, as well as USF’s own reporting and status of undergraduate and graduate enrollments, both domestic and international.
As of today, here’s how we intend to proceed:
We originally considered having the first half of our summer course schedule conducted remotely and the second half in a traditional “on-the-ground” person-to-person modality. Now, it appears clear that we will likely be sheltering in place, working remotely, and learning and teaching remotely on July 1, so it would not be appropriate to plan on launching second-half summer courses person-to-person on our campuses. Therefore, all summer courses will be conducted remotely.
As we have been doing this semester, for the vast majority of courses, students will engage with their faculty and classmates in a remote environment to meet course learning outcomes and program goals. On-site experiences or labs required for progression and graduation in programs such as those in the School of Nursing and Health Professions, the School of Education, and some graduate programs will continue as permitted by the degree program and as approved by the on-site training partner. This may, for example, include clinical, practicum, externship, and internship experiences. In all cases, these experiences will follow CDC guidelines.
At this time, it is our intention to open the academic year “on the ground” in August.
We intend to welcome students to campus and conduct classes in our traditional person-to-person mode. Yet, given the uncertainty of how our community, city, state, and world will experience the coronavirus in August, we are also preparing robust online options, consistent with the caliber of USF’s academic offerings for any students who — because of conditions beyond their control — are not able to travel to San Francisco and our campus in late summer. Please plan on a traditional opening in August, with more information about accommodations and alternatives to follow.
There are, of course, a number of distinctive USF programs that begin in the summer, among them: orientation for new and transfer students, the Muscat Scholars Program, the Hebrew language program Ulpan, and Black Student Orientation, to name just a few. More information about how we will launch these programs — and whether they will be exclusively remote or a hybrid of person-to-person and online — is forthcoming.
I do not need to remind you that external events or city, state, and federal guidance may require us to change this plan. All of us need to be flexible and ready to adjust, given developing conditions.
I am grateful for efforts you are all making as we navigate this time. I am grateful for faculty members and student ambassadors who are actively interacting with our admitted students — making phone calls and holding zoom conferences, answering questions, and reassuring our future students about living in San Francisco and studying at USF. I am grateful to our public safety and facilities staff members who are continuing to keep our campus — our most important physical asset — safe, secure, and functioning. And I am grateful to those staff members in ITS, OMC, Student Life, and other divisions who are going above and beyond to support faculty, students, and staff with creativity, innovation, and hard work to introduce technology, communications, and other resources to the new environment in which we find ourselves.
USF is a strong community, deeply rooted in and constantly inspired by our mission and values. Thank you for all you are doing to keep USF strong and vital during this time of crisis and change.
In addition to my prayers for your health, safety, and well-being, I want to assure you that I am committed to keeping you informed as USF moves forward.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.