If I could define this last year by one theme, it would be community. Community is essential to what we do and who we are as individuals, as Gators, and as humans. A healthy community pours into us, uplifting and supporting us when we need strength. And our compassion for our community drives us, allowing us to think and act beyond ourselves to champion and shield others.
Through the pandemic, promoting and protecting our community has remained paramount, and you all have been key players in that effort. Every COVID-19 test you take and every mask you wear helps the number of cases to decline. As case numbers decline and access to vaccines increase, we are hopeful that a new chapter is unfolding in our fight against the virus. So please keep wearing your mask!
Epidemiologists from UF Health Screen, Test and Protect program have recommended updating the university’s current testing protocol based on the declining number of cases at UF. Starting Monday, March 15, mandatory biweekly testing will be required only for students attending face-to-face classes, with testing no longer required for those living in residence halls or in UF’s Greek community who are not attending classes in person. Any student who is currently withheld due to noncompliance with routine testing will remain withheld.
All students can continue to schedule tests at any time and for any reason through UF Health Screen, Test & Protect initiative by completing the questionnaire and scheduling a test at ONE.UF.edu.
We are confident that our surveillance monitoring strategies, which include wastewater testing, will allow us to continue to effectively track and adjust our testing strategies. Students who are not in the routine testing plan will continue to have the option to be tested through UF Health Screen, Test & Protect by completing the healthy screening questionnaire and scheduling a test at ONE.UF.edu.
Beginning March 22, all testing locations will be reducing their hours of operation, and testing appointments will no longer be offered on Saturdays. Additionally, starting April 1, UF Health Screen, Test & Protect will stop offering the nasal swab test as an option at testing locations due to low demand. Students who require that form of test for travel purposes can consult their local doctor or schedule a testing appointment through the UF Student Health Care Center.
These evolutions to our plans are tailored to case levels in the community and are positive indicators of our collective progress.
Beyond the pandemic, Gators continue to make an impact in the community through service. Many of our local charities and organizations are offering volunteer opportunities, both in-person and virtual. I encourage to visit the Gators Volunteer website and take our Service Quiz to identify how your unique skills and passions can best support the community.
Additionally, Student Government’s Big Event is March 20 from 8 a.m. to noon. The Big Event is a city-wide service day led by students. Registration opens on Friday, March 19 at 5 p.m. This is a great opportunity to build community through volunteering and expand your network by serving alongside other students.
Finally, throughout March, we collectively celebrate community through Women’s History Month. Through stories, podcasts, and events, UF commemorates the remarkable women – past and present – who empower us all. I encourage everyone to celebrate Women’s History and help share these inspiring stories.
Hope you have a wonderful and restful weekend.
Be safe, be well, and as always – Go Gators!
Dr. D’Andra Mull
Vice President for Student Affairs
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