Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions

UPDATED: 11:20 A.M. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2020


ACADEMICS/STUDENT LIFE

SAFETY, CLEANING & SANITATION

TRAVEL

EMPLOYEE RESOURCES

GENERAL INFORMATION ON COVID-19


ACADEMICS/STUDENT LIFE

How will classes be conducted during the fall 2020 semester? 

Currently, the fall 2020 semester is set to begin Aug. 24, 2020, and run until Dec. 11, 2020. However, no face-to-face classes will be held after the Thanksgiving break. The university will offer as many face-to-face courses as possible, with an emphasis on selected lab and experiential courses. There also will be both synchronous and asynchronous distance learning as well as hybrid classes that are a mix of face-to-face instruction and remote learning. For in-person instruction, classroom capacity will be limited to 25 to 50 percent of capacity. The FSU Board of Trustees approved the plan June 18, and the Florida Board of Governors approved it on June 23.

Will residence halls be open to students in the fall? 

Yes, but at a decreased density and with new policies and procedures. FSU also will limit residence hall program size to reduced capacity of lounges and incorporate social distancing/masks protocols when students are not in individual rooms. All lounges, laundry rooms, and kitchen areas will be limited to 25% capacity, and elevators will be limited to 1 person, a roommate pair, or 1 resident and their guest.

I’ve never taken classes remotely. Where do I start?

The Office of Distance Learning has compiled the Student Guide to Learning Online that includes tools and tips to help students stay connected to your instructors and classmates as well as maximize learning at a distance. The guide includes options for free internet access, instructions on how to use tools like Canvas and Zoom and directions on how FSU students can access free software like IBM’s SPSS.

Is the library open?

FSU Libraries physical locations will open Aug. 17. Hours and locations are available at https://lib.fsu.edu/hours. For the most up-to-date information on the Libraries services, visit https://www.lib.fsu.edu/news/covid-19.

Are Campus Recreation facilities open and are activities available?

Campus Recreation will offer programs and services virtually and in-person in Fall 2020. The Leach Center, Fitness & Movement Clinic, Main Campus Fields, Westside Courts, and the Rez Lakefront Park & Retreat Center will open for supervised, socially-distanced recreation. Please note that fitness facilities require a reservation, no walk-ins are permitted. All facilities have limited hours, capacities, amenities, and activities. Visit campusrec.fsu.edu/status to view available opportunities and prepare for your visit.

Facility operations and programs will prioritize the safety of our students and community, following all University and CDC health and safety guidelines. Group Fitness classes will be held virtually and outdoors. Outdoor Pursuits will offer outdoor excursions on-campus and at local destinations. Intramural Sports will offer virtual programs and distanced outdoor activities with small team sizes. Visit Campus Recreation’s Active Anywhere page for information on program offerings.

Will services at University Health Services available this fall? 

University Health Services will offer a combination of virtual telemedicine visits and in-person visits, with the visit type matched to the service being provided. UHS will meet students’ needs through virtual services whenever possible to promote social distancing. Face coverings, screening questions and temperature checks will be required upon entry to the building and CDC guidelines for healthcare facilities will be followed. To learn how to schedule an appointment, please visit the UHS web page.

Is there a difference between a course designed for online learning and a course that is traditionally offered face-to-face but is being delivered remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

There is a difference. In a traditional on-campus course, students gather in a classroom with their instructor and engage with learning activities in real time. Interaction between students and instructors is organic and usually very high. This fall, because of the pandemic, some traditional in-person classes are being taught remotely through video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, and FSU’s learning management system, Canvas. These classes are not normally delivered remotely. The remote instruction is an alternative teaching method that allows instructors and students to practice proper social distancing.

Courses developed and delivered online exclusively for distance learning incorporate alternative teaching strategies and instructional design to ensure that students experience interactions with peers and instructors even when learning at a distance. Designing and delivering an online class that offers similar engagement to on-campus courses for students typically takes more time, planning, and effort to create content and develop interactive activities. Faculty use instructional designers, instructor training, media production services, specialized software, and teaching assistants trained to support students in an online environment.

I am enrolled in a distance learning course. Why do I have to pay distance learning fees when students who are taking courses that are being taught remotely do not?

Courses developed and delivered online exclusively for distance learning students are significantly more expensive than their traditional on-campus counterparts. Costs include things like instructional designers, instructor training, media production services, specialized software, and teaching assistants trained to support students in an online environment.

To offset those additional costs, FSU charges a distance learning fee for courses exclusively developed and delivered online. Fees vary by course and consider the cost of curriculum design and development, technology for online delivery, course mentors, and online program support services. Distance learning fees only serve to recover the cost of providing the course online and are not used as a source of revenue.

Traditional on-campus courses do not assess a distance learning fee. Although additional expenses have been incurred to deliver these courses remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, FSU is absorbing these costs in order to prevent students from paying additional, unexpected fees for courses that would not typically have them.

For students enrolled in fully online programs, the distance learning fee is often offset by other fee reductions and waivers. For example, FSU waives student health, transportation, and facilities use fees for distance learning students and significantly reduces athletics and activities/services fees.

I didn’t realize that I enrolled in a distance learning course. The same course is being offered remotely this fall. Can I switch? 

Students who are enrolled in a distance learning course can contact their academic advisor to check availability for a section of the course that is ordinarily offered face to face.

When registering for classes, how do I know if I’m enrolling in a traditional, classroom-based course taught remotely or in a course developed exclusively for online delivery?

When registering for classes in Student Central, note the location field in each course and section. It’s possible for a course to have multiple sections, some offered remotely and some online. Class sections offered remotely will list the location as remote. Class sections designed exclusively for online delivery will list the location as online. If you need help finding remote course sections in Student Central, your advisor can assist you. Academic program specialists with the Office of Distance Learning are also available by emailing inquiries@campus.fsu.edu.

I’m taking classes remotely during the fall semester and miss campus life. How can I stay connected?

Virtual FSU will continue to offer engagement opportunities and community building for new and returning students throughout the Fall semester. Check out https://studentaffairs.fsu.edu/virtualfsu/ for virtual health and wellness information, services from the Career Center and the University Counseling Center, food pantry and case management support as well as links to virtual opportunities to be active, meet about wellness and find engaging things to do online.

My student organization would like to host an event. What are the guidelines?

The Division of Student Affairs has limited student gatherings to 10 persons in a good faith attempt to reduce the number of contacts and exposures that can place our community at risk of spreading the contagion of COVID-19. For more information, visit DSA Events/Student Gatherings FAQs.

Will scheduled FSU athletic events move forward?

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced July 29 that if public health guidance allows, all ACC-sponsored fall sports will begin competition during the week of Sept. 7-12. Florida State’s football team will play a 10-game ACC schedule with home games against Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Virginia. The Seminoles also participate in women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country and women’s soccer in the fall, but dates have not been set for competition in any of these sports. The university continues to monitor advice from local, state and federal health officials and will follow guidance from the ACC and NCAA. For more information, visit seminoles.com.

Will my fall study abroad program be affected? 

The university has canceled fall 2020 International Programs. Spring programs are currently expected to proceed as scheduled. For more on FSU International Programs, visit https://international.fsu.edu/.


SAFETY, CLEANING & SANITATION

Will face coverings be required?  

Yes, face coverings are required in all indoor facilities on campus. Individuals will not be permitted to attend face-to-face classes, take part in other events or access services indoors without the proper face coverings. Face coverings will be available in multiple locations on campus if a student does not have access to or has forgotten their face covering. For more information, visit the CDC’s guidelines on How to Wear Masks.

Will FSU supply face coverings?

FSU will supply residential students a cloth face covering at move-in. The Division of Student Affairs will soon announce face covering distribution dates and sites for students living off campus. Employees, including faculty, staff, graduate students and student workers, have been or will be supplied with cloth face coverings. Supervisors will organize distribution to employees.

Will students, faculty and staff be tested for COVID-19?

It is critical to the safety and well-being of the entire campus community that we all do our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The University is strongly encouraging all individuals who will be present on campus to undergo testing for COIVD-19 through a recognized testing procedure of their choice before returning to campus.

Testing for employees is available from Aug. 5 – Aug. 23 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Employees who have not been tested for COVID-19 at a University testing location are encouraged to do so. To schedule an appointment, visit https://uhs.fsu.edu/covid-testing-fsu.

Students living on campus will be required to participate in testing on campus as part of the housing contract, and there may be other groups that have been identified as a high priority and required to undergo testing by their department. In those cases, the students will be notified directly by their department regarding expectations.

I have come in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends self-quarantine or self-isolation only for individuals who were in close contact with a case of COVID-19. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on). If you were in close contact with a case of COVID-19 or during the next 14 days feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please seek medical advice and call ahead before going to the doctor’s office or emergency room. Also, please avoid contact with others, do not travel while sick and avoid using public transportation.

If you did not come in close contact with a case of COVID-19, here are some reminders on how to stay healthy.  Please remember to avoid close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your face, stay home when you are sick, clean frequently touched objects and surfaces using a household cleaning spray or wipes and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Is the university conducting contact tracing on campus? Will I be contacted if I’ve been exposed?

The university’s Secure Assessment for FSU Exposure Response (SAFER) team works with students, faculty, and staff who have been exposed or tested positive for coronavirus. The SAFER Team provides contact assessment for FSU-affiliated cases and makes on-and off-campus referrals for support. The SAFER Team is working closely with the Leon County Health Department, which performs community contact tracing.

If you are exposed while on campus or if you test positive for coronavirus, expect a confidential call from the SAFER Team. Please be prepared to answer SAFER at 644-5555 and the Health Department should they call.

If you are asked to quarantine due to an exposure, the SAFER team will help you know when you are approved to return to campus activities.

What is the difference between self-quarantine and self-isolation?

Quarantining in general means the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but are not yet symptomatic from others who have not been exposed to prevent the possible spread of the disease. Self-isolation means the separation of a person or group known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent spread of the disease.

How are common areas being maintained in each building?

Building Services is committed to enhancing, providing, and maintaining clean, safe, and sanitary conditions for all academic, administrative and support buildings. Your assistance in helping us maintain these facilities, classrooms, and workspaces is critical in keeping a safe and clean work environment. All cleaning on campus currently follows CDC standards and utilizes EPA registered cleaning agents, including the wiping down of common area tables/chairs, etc. For more information on general cleaning protocols, visit https://www.facilities.fsu.edu/covid/.

Are there any measures being taken regarding the air conditioning system?  

As a precautionary measure, the HVAC air filtration system has been evaluated for all campus buildings. While all systems meet current filtration standards and are deemed extremely low risk for transfer of pathogens, the University has opted to install higher efficiency air filters for additional protection. These high efficiency filters use mechanical and electrostatic filtration and have been demonstrated to protect against water droplets and many aerosol particles released from coughing or sneezing.

Do you have any recommended information on cleaning and disinfection? 

The CDC has provided an easy-to-read printable on workplace, school and home cleaning.


EMPLOYEE RESOURCES

I have some questions for HR. Where should I go?

FSU’s Office of Human Resources has created a COVID-19 workplace guidance page as well as a COVID-19 FAQ specifically for HR questions.

When will more employees start returning to campus?

It is anticipated that all departments and offices will have an on-campus presence beginning Monday, Aug. 17. Departments should ensure on-campus staffing levels meet the needs of the campus community. Departments should coordinate with their faculty and staff to identify who must be physically present on campus to perform their duties and determine work schedules. The goal continues to be a lower density of employees on campus balanced with the need to engage and support our students and perform critical business functions.

While some employees may be assigned on-campus duties, others may not be required to return to campus until later. These decisions should be made by the supervisor based on the individual assigned duties of employees. Employees should continue to work with their departments and supervisors on a schedule that allows them to balance their family/personal responsibilities with their work obligations. These flexible arrangements will continue until the end of the fall semester in December. At that point, the University will assess the situation and communicate as appropriate. Supervisors are encouraged to contact Human Resources (Employee/Labor Relations or Faculty Relations) for any assistance needed to work through this process.

What if my job cannot be done remotely? 

Employees who have previously be unable to perform their work remotely may now return to campus to perform their job duties if the work is available. Employees who report to campus should obtain supervisor approval and continue to practice the CDC Guidelines for Social Distancing. Flexible or rotating schedules for on-campus employees may be appropriate to reduce the amount of people in the department. Continue to refrain from conducting in-person meetings with groups of people. Masks are required for employees working on campus.

I am over 65 or have a chronic health condition that puts me at a higher risk of greater illness from COVID-19. What should I do?

Some employees may have concerns about their work assignment due to health-related conditions that may place them or someone in their care at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19. These employees may request a modification to their work assignment by completing the Temporary Modification Request form. Details regarding this request process can be found on the HR website.

I thought telecommuting with a child at home wasn’t allowed. My kids are home because of the school closures.

Human Resources has temporarily removed any childcare requirements for remote work.

What is the status of research operations?

As the State of Florida has slowly reopened, Florida State University has taken steps to incrementally expand on-campus research operations.  We continue to follow the guidance of local, state, and federal officials to maintain the health and safety of our campus community while also looking for ways to increase our research capacity. Please consult the Office of Research’s website for more information.

What are some ways I can secure my Zoom meetings?

Here are some scheduling options and in-meeting features you can use to secure your Zoom Meetings and limit unwanted disruptions.


TRAVEL

Is university-sponsored travel affected? 

All university-sponsored domestic and international travel continues to be restricted.

Are employees restricted from traveling? 

The University has canceled all international and domestic university-related travel. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to refrain from personal international or domestic travel, unless the reason for such travel is designated as essential. However, personal travel is not prohibited. If employees choose to travel, they should review COVID-19 data at their anticipated destination in order to make an informed decision about their exposure risk. Personal domestic travel will no longer require a 14-day self -quarantine unless the employee presents COVID-19 related symptoms upon return from travel.  Individuals who travel internationally and/or on any cruise to any location, should not return to campus until they have been COVID-19 symptom free at their normal place of residence for 14 days. Notify your supervisor if you have experienced COVID-19 symptoms, traveled internationally, or recently been on a cruise. Supervisors can consult with HR regarding the 14-day quarantine period, if needed.

What about travel for student organizations?

FSU student organizations and recognized groups will not be permitted to travel outside of the Tallahassee area to attend an event or otherwise represent Florida State University in any event or competition through December 31, 2020. Any such travel, regardless of funding source (University, organization, or personal funds), is not permitted for group travel. For more information, see the Student Travel Policy in the Student Affairs Return to Campus Life Guide.


GENERAL INFORMATION ON COVID-19

Florida State University is carefully monitoring developments related to the Coronavirus. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will provide updated information and guidance as it becomes available. Our highest priority remains the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

About the Coronavirus

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS. COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

For the latest information on the outbreak, click the link below:

CDC Official Updates

What are the Symptoms?

For confirmed cases, symptoms have ranged from infected people having few to no symptoms to people becoming severely ill. Symptoms appear within 2 through 14 days and can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

What areas are currently affected?

For the latest information on cases in Florida, please visit the Florida Department of Health. 

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

The virus causing COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person, according to the CDC. Someone who is sick with the virus can spread the illness to others. The virus spreads through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes.

What does exposure mean?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure is defined as being within 6 feet (or 2 meters) of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time (such as caring for or visiting a patient) or having unprotected direct contact with a patient, such as being coughed on or touching a used tissue with a bare hand.

How is it prevented?

The best way to prevent infection is avoid exposure to the virus. As a reminder, the CDC recommends everyday actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • 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.

For more information about handwashing, see CDC’s handwashing site.

What is FSU doing to prevent coronavirus?

Florida State University is taking aggressive steps to prevent the spread of disease, such as COVID-19, by promoting healthy habits and enhancing its existing cleaning and disinfection practices. This cannot be achieved without the help of the entire campus community. First and foremost, this means engaging in healthy habits such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds; covering your cough or sneeze; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; avoiding those who are sick; and staying home when you are sick. Signage promoting this is posted throughout campus.

University partners including Facilities, Recreation, Housing, and others have reviewed cleaning protocols and products and are taking extra measures to disinfect frequently touched areas like doorknobs, stair rails, elevator buttons and other surfaces (such as exercise equipment and classroom AV equipment). High traffic areas such as student housing, libraries, dining halls, bathrooms, locker rooms, as well as recreation centers also receive more cleanings. Additionally, Star Metro buses are cleaned daily and being deep cleaned weekly.

University units that would like to contribute to the ongoing prevention efforts are able to purchase reasonable supplies for disinfection and sanitizing their areas. 

Will getting the flu shot help?

The flu shot will not prevent coronavirus; however, people with the flu are more susceptible to other illnesses, so a shot is still recommended.