Road to Reopening

Preparations are underway for fall semester

By Mary McInerney, USF News Posted Fri, 05/22/2020 - 04:34

USF has a roadmap to reopen campus for students in mid-August as long as California and San Francisco allow for a safe operation on campus.

“The campus will look different and classrooms, offices, and common spaces will have a different setup,” said President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. But if “conditions allow us to gather this fall, the University of San Francisco campus and community will be prepared and ready.”

Because no one can predict the duration of COVID-19 in San Francisco, faculty are preparing to teach courses this fall in person, remotely, and through a hybrid model, Fr. Fitzgerald said. The university is preparing to pivot fully to remote learning, if necessary.

In the meantime, USF has a seven-point plan to open campus. Here are the details:

Prioritizing health and safety

The health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus are USF’s highest priorities and guide all decisions, Fr. Fitzgerald said. Data-driven decisions are being made based on research, advice, and regulatory protocols from state and county health officials.

Taking a community-based approach

All members of the community are expected to follow practices that ensure the health and safety of everyone on campus. USF is increasing the number of hand-sanitizing stations throughout campus, and face coverings will be provided for all faculty, staff, and students.

Ensuring academic excellence

Regardless of the mode of instruction (in-person, remote, or hybrid), USF will deliver a rigorous academic experience for all students, Fr. Fitzgerald said. USF will continue to set the highest academic standards grounded in Jesuit tradition and will provide students with one-on-one experiences with their professors who teach their classes.

Implementing testing and contact tracing

A public health working group composed of faculty, staff, and students is pursuing testing for the coronavirus on campus. USF will work with the City and County of San Francisco to trace and monitor the spread of the virus.

Converting to a low-density campus

USF is making changes to physical spaces, signs, and other facilities to enable proper social distancing.

  • Residence halls will have only one or two students per room. There will be no triple rooms on campus.  
  • USF has identified spaces on campus and procedures for isolating any student who may need to be quarantined.
  • All spaces on campus, from dining halls to offices, are being examined to ensure social distancing. Signs are being placed throughout campus — in open areas as well as inside buildings and in classrooms — reminding community members and approved visitors to observe social distance practices.
  • Cleaning rotations are being increased for classrooms, public spaces, and restrooms to ensure the cleanest possible environment.

Ensuring social distancing in classrooms

USF is taking every precaution to enable recommended social distancing in every classroom on campus, Fr. Fitzgerald said. The university already has a lower student-to-faculty ratio than most colleges and universities. This allows students to be in a classroom together with their professors while still maintaining proper social distancing. Preparations taking place in classrooms include: 

  • Inventorying each classroom to document the maximum occupancy that allows for a distance of at least six feet between individuals. 
  • Installing signs in each classroom to indicate the appropriate distance for safe seating.
  • Installing new IT equipment in classrooms to ensure the latest technology for instruction across campus.

 Changing the academic calendar

USF is considering adjusting the academic calendar to conclude the fall semester before Thanksgiving and before the start of the flu season in San Francisco. This change will significantly reduce the number of students traveling back and forth to campus during November and December, and likewise reduce the chances of spreading illness.   

The university will continue to provide updates on the reopening plan in the coming weeks and months. More information