Coronavirus in Florida: State universities transitioning to online classes, students encouraged to stay home

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – All universities within the State University System of Florida are being asked to make plans to transition to remote instruction as soon as possible due to coronavirus concerns.

The Florida Board of University Governors released a statement Wednesday afternoon instructing all state universities to take steps to minimize health and safety risks amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It has become clear that to protect the students and the residents of our state, proactive rather than reactive guidance to universities is necessary,” the statement says.

According to the statement, “all universities will make plans to transition to remote instruction as soon as possible.” That is effective immediately.

Universities with students who have returned to campus after spring break are being asked to “implement a process to transition to remote instruction immediately and encourage students to return home for at least two weeks.”

RELATED: University of Tampa coronavirus: Face-to-face classes move online starting Monday

Universities that have students who are currently on spring break “should direct their students to NOT return to campus for at least two weeks following the conclusion of spring break,” the statement says. That includes the University of South Florida in Tampa.

“To be clear, campuses will remain open, and operations will continue, although some adjustments may be made as determined by each university,” the statement says. “All universities will continue to provide essential services, such as dining, counseling, health services, library services, etc., potentially on a limited basis or remotely. Each university with clinical and other non-classroom based programs will communicate directly with those students.”

The State University System of Florida says students are being encouraged to remain off-campus but plans to provide residential accommodations will be made for students who can’t leave.