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COVID-19 Coronavirus

The University of West Florida is working closely with the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, to closely monitor COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The University's COVID-19 guidelines and protocols are based on national guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in coordination with the Florida State University System.


Message from the President

After all we have been through over the past year, I had hoped my back-to-school letter to you would be about something other than a pandemic. Unfortunately, the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases has raised questions within the campus community which must be addressed. At UWF, we continue to rely on guidance from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we remain flexible as that guidance changes.

I encourage every Argo who is eligible for the vaccine to get vaccinated against this terrible virus. On campus, face coverings should be worn indoors in all buildings. We are re-initiating daily surveys to assist us in decreasing the spread. Be ready to be tested if you are symptomatic or exposed to someone with the virus. As always, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and if you’re sick, stay home.

The University of West Florida has weathered storms before. I have faith in the people of UWF to work together and find solutions. My leadership team and I are standing by to do everything in our power to see our University through to happier days.

Sincerely yours,

Martha D. Saunders
President

FAQs

About COVID-19

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness.

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Have there been cases of COVID-19 in Escambia, Santa Rosa or Okaloosa Counties? 
Updates on the virus, including the number of confirmed cases in each county, are available at floridahealth.gov.

What happens when there is a confirmed case on the UWF campus? 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols are followed. Individuals who have had close contact with the patient may be contacted and monitored by the Department of Health with UWF’s full support.

Is it possible to become reinfected with COVID-19?
The CDC believes it is possible to become reinfected with COVID-19. The CDC has no confirmed reports to date of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within three months of initial infection. After three months past the initial infection, it is possible to become reinfected with the virus.

If I was previously infected with COVID-19, do I need to quarantine again?
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months as long as they do not develop symptoms. If they develop symptoms again within three months, they need to quarantine and be re-tested.

If I was previously infected with COVID-19 and it has been longer than three months, do I need to quarantine if I feel sick?
Detailed recommendations on when to isolate or quarantine can be found at the CDC website.

Where can I stay up to date on University notices relating to the COVID-19 situation?
This is the official webpage to the COVID-19 pandemic and updates are sent out via email and UWF social media outlets (Facebook and Twitter). 

Helpful Resources

Where can I find information on COVID-19 vaccinations?
For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, visit uwf.edu/covidvaccine.

Students

What actions should students take if they have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19? 
All students who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19 should complete the COVID-19 Pre-screening in MyUWF. Students who have been exposed to a known positive case of COVID-19 and/or have symptoms of COVID-19 should seek testing.  Students who are awaiting test results should quarantine until they receive results. If you test positive, please immediately isolate and remain off campus for 10 days from the date of your COVID-19 test. Do not come to any UWF location until you have completed your 10 day isolation. If a student needs additional medical guidance or COVID-19 testing contact Student Health Services at 850.474.2172. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and need assistance with your classes please contact your faculty. If students need additional assistance after contacting their faculty, they may email Case Management Services at casemanagement@uwf.edu or call 850.474.2384 to discuss their options.

Will faculty be required to excuse me from class and allow me to make up work if I get COVID-19?
The University will not distinguish between COVID-19 related and unrelated absences. Students who are required to quarantine or isolate should consult with their faculty regarding absences and missed work. If students need additional assistance after consulting with their faculty, they may email Case Management Services at casemanagement@uwf.edu or call 850.474.2384 to discuss their options.

What should faculty communicate to students who have notified them that they have been exposed to COVID-19? 
Below is a template email for faculty to use when students contact them directly regarding exposure to COVID-19: 

Thank you for making me aware of your potential exposure to COVID-19 and I hope you are well. Please do not visit any UWF locations until you have filled out the COVID-19 Pre-screening survey. Should you need additional medical support or COVID testing contact Student Health Services at 850.474.2172. As you feel able, please take a look at course assignments and participation expectations for the next two weeks and schedule with me to discuss a plan to keep you on track in the course.

Should faculty and classmates quarantine if a student in their in-person class tests positive for COVID-19? 
If exposed to COVID-19, follow CDC guidance. Detailed recommendations on when to isolate or quarantine can be found at the CDC website.

Faculty should never identify someone in their class that tested positive or was asked to quarantine to any other person, as this violates FERPA guidelines.

Employees

What actions should employees take if they have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19? 
Employees who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 must complete the UWF COVID-19 Pre-screening and contact their direct supervisor and Human Resources. Employees who are awaiting test results should quarantine until they receive results. If you test positive, please immediately isolate and remain off campus for 10 days from the date of your COVID-19 test. Do not come to any UWF location until you have completed your 10 day isolation.

Student Health Services is only able to provide COVID testing for students. Employees needing a COVID-19 test may find local testing sites in Escambia County and in Santa Rosa County

Testing is also available at Walgreens, CVS or Walmart.

Isolation and Quarantine

What are the guidelines if I need to isolate or quarantine?
Detailed recommendations on when to isolate or quarantine can be found at the CDC website.

Has UWF put any travel restrictions in place?
As of May 1, 2021, University-sponsored travel for grant and research purposes is permitted, following certain guidelines. All UWF students and employees are required to follow protocols before returning to a UWF location from domestic and international travel.

University-Sponsored Travel Requirements:

  • All travel must be approved by the division head. Approval from the division head must be attached to the travel request in Concur. 
  • All airfare must be booked through Concur using a University P-card. A personal card may be used if you set one up on your profile in Concur. This will help with cancellations. Exception allowed for guest travel.
  • Please continue to follow UWF COVID-19 guidelines, as you are representing the University during your travel. Face coverings are recommended. Keep six feet social distance where possible.
  • Avoid crowds and wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
  • Check quarantine requirements for your destination location. If a quarantine period is required for the state/territory/country you are traveling to, then you may not be allowed to attend the conference.
  • DO NOT travel if you were recently exposed to a COVID positive person, you are sick or you test positive for COVID.

Does the University have any guidelines for UWF employee travel?
See the CDC’s latest recommendations for travel in the U.S.

International Travel Requirements:
All air passengers coming to the U.S., including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the U.S. CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are able to get fully vaccinated.

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you must send a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination card to Human Resources. Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel. Test results must be sent to Human Resources. Self-quarantine until you receive an email from Human Resources approving you to return to a UWF location. You may work remotely during this time if approved by your supervisor.
  • If you are unvaccinated, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. After your trip, get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine.
    • If you test negative, stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days. 
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
    • If you don’t get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. 
    • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.

What is guidance for personal travel?
Those traveling for non-University-sponsored travel (personal travel) should follow the CDC’s travel guidance:

I am an international student returning to the U.S. What is the guidance for my travel?
International students traveling internationally to return to UWF should follow the CDC’s international travel guidance

Campus Environment

What steps should I take to prevent the spread of germs?
The CDC advises following these simple steps to prevent the spread of germs:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

Am I required to get tested for COVID-19 before I return?
Testing is not a requirement for students or employees to return to campus. For students who wish to take a COVID-19 test before returning to campus, UWF Student Health Services is performing rapid COVID-19 testing. For more information, visit uwf.edu/healthservices.

Are face coverings required at UWF?
When on campus or at a UWF location, a disposable or cloth face covering should be worn in all shared indoor spaces. Face coverings are not required, however the University, as well as the CDC, highly recommends the use of face coverings indoors.

Examples of shared indoor spaces include classrooms, laboratories, hallways, shared offices, office cubicles, open offices, restrooms, conference rooms, lobbies and lounge areas, retail spaces, museums, libraries and dining facilities.

The CDC provides additional information on how to wear your face covering and what type of face coverings provide optimal protection.

Am I required to wear a face covering if I’m officially representing UWF at an event off campus?
Any person representing UWF at an event should abide by relevant local and/or establishment requirements for face coverings.

When should I take the COVID-19 Pre-screening?
Any UWF student or employee must take the COVID-19 Pre-screening if they:

  • Tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days, or awaiting COVID-19 test results
  • Have been alerted they have had potential 1:1 contact with a known COVID positive person in the past 10 days
  • Traveled internationally in the past 10 days

Where can I find the COVID-19 Pre-screening?
The COVID-19 Pre-screening is available in MyUWF.

What happens after I complete the COVID-19 pre-screening?
Students will be directed to instructions on how to proceed depending on their answers to the questions.

Employees will be contacted by Human Resources for further instructions.

Does the University provide quarantine or isolation housing for students who are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19?
No. The University does not provide quarantine/isolation housing for the fall semester. Students who are exposed or who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine or isolate at home or off-campus.

Can I cancel my housing contract if I get COVID-19?
There are limited reasons students may request that their housing contract be cancelled. For information regarding housing contract cancellation requests, please visit UWF’s Request for Cancellation of UWF Housing Contract webpage.

I am an international student and have questions. Where can I find information?
For frequently asked questions for international students, visit https://confluence.uwf.edu/display/public/International+Programs+Updates+for+COVID-19.

I am an Active Duty Member/ Veteran/Military Dependent looking for additional guidance, what resources do I have available?
The UWF Military & Veterans Resource Center has a variety of services available to students through this transition. These include guidance on impact for benefits (TA, GI Bill©, VA) technological and equipment assistance, one-on-one mentoring with our S.W.I.M TEAM and general support. Any Active Duty member or veteran student should contact the office by email at mvrc@uwf.edu or speak to someone live from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday from the MVRC website and click on “MVRC Customer Service Support.”

Community

Are visitors permitted at UWF locations?
Yes, visitors, vendors and volunteers are permitted at UWF locations, but they are asked to comply with guidelines and protocols that promote a safer and healthier campus.

Are UWF Libraries open to the public?
All UWF libraries are open to the public.

COVID-19 Positive Case Statistics

These numbers include on- and off-campus positive cases reported to UWF, beginning August 1, 2021. Statistics are updated weekly.

122
Student reported positive cases
29
Faculty and staff reported positive cases

Confidentiality laws prohibit disclosing individuals' information. In the event that an employee or student does not report that they have tested positive for COVID-19, the University would have no way of knowing about the case and it will not be reflected in these numbers.

Faculty and Staff Experts

Infectious Diseases

Dr. Wes Farr, Lecturer, Department of Public Health, physician with specialties in Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Aerospace Medicine, who continues part-time work in Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Ashok Srinivasan, William Nystul Eminent Scholar Chair and Professor, Department of Computer Science, who heads the Viral Infection Propagation Through Air-Travel project which researches how infectious diseases are transferred through air travel.

Hospitality Industry

Dr. Ali Green, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Global Hospitality & Tourism Management, who is researching the coronavirus effects on local and global tourism.

Small Business Industry

Kelly Massey, Regional Director, Florida Small Business Development Center at UWF, whose areas of consulting include business and strategic plan assistance, financial and capital access assistance and market/sales growth assistance.

Dorian Zwierewicz, Associate Director, Florida Small Business Development Center at UWF, whose areas of consulting include business and strategic planning, cash flow management and start-up.

Coping and Support

Dr. Michele Manassah, Executive Director, Counseling and Wellness, spent 20 years in the Public Health industry providing mental health services and is an expert on coping mechanisms.

Dr. Athena DuPre, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Communication, author of “Communicating About Health: Current Issues and Perspectives” with expertise on the importance of people staying healthy by communicating while isolated.

International Affairs

Rachel Hendrix, Executive Director, International Affairs, oversees UWF student abroad programs, regional leader for the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers: Association of International Educations and board member for the Florida Association of International Educators.

Dr. Jacob Shively, Associate Professor, Department of Government, with expertise on how COVID-19 is impacting U.S. and foreign government operations.

Remote Instruction

Dr. William Crawley, Dean, College of Education and Professional Studies, longtime advocate for online teaching and is in discussions with local school districts about ways to transition during this dynamic situation.

Dr. Amy Crawley, Assistant Professor, Department of Movement Sciences and Health, instructs 40-plus students in an aging class that she moved to virtual coaching in response to COVID-19. Students partner with a senior citizen and they have developed a revised workout plan for the senior citizens to use at home.

Dr. Susan James, Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership, research expert on improving students’ reading and writing skills who taught in the classroom for 17 years and served as a high school guidance counselor in Florida.

Dr. Holley Handley, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Instructional Design and Technology, who teaches her courses online at UWF and as a former high school teacher and administrator in Florida is an expert on the challenges K-12 schools face in transitioning to remote instruction.

Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, Director, Center for Cybersecurity and Professor, Department of Computer Science, expert on how to stay cyber secure while working or learning remotely.

COVID-19 Testing

UWF Student Health Services is performing rapid COVID-19 testing for current students with a valid Nautilus ID card. Appointments are required to receive the test and will be offered from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Student Wellness Center, Building 960. To make an appointment, contact SHS at 850.474.2172. The rapid testing will provide results within 15–20 minutes.

Students must complete documentation prior to arriving for their appointment. This will be sent securely through DocuSign. If this is not completed before a student arrives for their appointment they will be rescheduled.

If an employee is presumed to have contracted COVID-19, the employee must notify their supervisor immediately. If employees would like to take the COVID-19 test on their own, they may visit an official testing site or contact their health care provider.

Alternative Greetings

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Staying Healthy with Argie

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martha saunders sitting at a desk showing off her vaccine bandaid
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student kaylee showing off a vaccine bandaid

COVID-19 Warning: An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists here. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By entering this venue, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.