August 28, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

Welcome to the start of the new academic year! We are mere days away from the first day of classes and I, personally, am excited to embrace the normalcy that the routine of classes brings.

The collective university community has been hard at work developing new resources and frameworks to support you and your educational experience. No matter how you will take part in the Gator Nation this semester, we are glad you are back and we are prepared to engage you through many different approaches, both inside and outside of the classroom. As you think about ways to interact and access academic resources, I encourage you to utilize faculty members’ virtual office hours and digital tools to connect with your classmates and instructors. Additionally, all of our services in Student Affairs are fully available and I encourage you to explore the Virtual Student Union to view upcoming events and opportunities.

This week President Fuchs gave his State of the University address to our faculty and staff. His ultimate ask of our campus community is for us to be kind. I wholeheartedly agree. Gators, be kind to yourselves (body, mind, and spirit) and others including friends, family, faculty and staff.

One of the major ways you can show kindness is through being responsible and upholding policies on- and off- campus to support your health and the health of those around you.

As I have mentioned previously, it is critical you understand that on- and off-campus parties and disregard for face masksphysical distancing and gathering sizes cannot and will not be tolerated. Off-campus, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people who are not in your household are not acceptable and will likely soon be in violation of Alachua County’s next emergency order.

Today, we are launching a new feature on the GatorSafe app to allow students, faculty and staff to share COVID-19 concerns, ranging from a space needing a hand sanitizer dispenser to someone not upholding mask policies. UF staff will review every concern and follow up as appropriate. Available for download on all platforms, the GatorSafe app is a helpful resource for safety information in general. I encourage you to use it to help us enhance our operations and our outreach and support efforts across campus.

I know and understand there is still uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and how the university is moving forward. Our focus has been just that since last spring and we have invested our best efforts in creating a frame that allows us to be proactive, responsive and reactive to what we learn and will learn along the way. One of the questions I am regularly asked is “what happens when a case of COVID-19 is identified on campus?” Great question, and I encourage you to read Dr. Michael Lauzardo’s, Director of UF Health Screen, Test & Protect and Deputy Director of UF Emerging Pathogens Institute, most recent letter about how we are holistically supporting students who need to isolate or quarantine.

Again, welcome or welcome back, Gators. We are very excited to start the fall semester and we look forward to helping you engage, grow and thrive.

Be safe, be well, and as always – Go Gators!

Dr. D’Andra Mull
Vice President for Student Affairs

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