Previous COVID-19 Updates
Here is a record of previous updates to the HCC community. For the most current update, please visit coronavirus updates. For how the coronavirus outbreak has impacted students, please see COVID-19 Student FAQs.
To avoid confusion, we have archived previous communications that are more than 6 weeks old. If for any reason you need to reference a previous communication, please email email@example.com.
I want to share some information based on feedback from our recent COVID forums. First, we will be returning to campus following the winter break under the current operating protocols that have successfully served our College community thus far. I am extremely proud of the attention and care that each of you has demonstrated. The COVID teams have managed our cases with great haste and diligence, and as a result, our positivity rate has remained low. I am optimistic that our students and employees will adhere to the same level of vigilance over the break, but again, we will be carefully monitoring conditions and responding accordingly. As I have previously stated, we are prepared to modify operations should local health and government officials require us to do so. The health and safety of the HCC family comes first.
Second, the effect of COVID on our communities remains a dynamic one, and as such, so too must our work environment. The College’s staffing process must remain flexible to accommodate the changing circumstances. On January 4th, administrators and staff will no longer be working remotely 100% unless there has been an approved ADA accommodation. Supervisors will determine staffing needs and may continue using staff rotational models to meet the requirements of social distancing and reduced occupancy rates while ensuring that equity remains a key guiding principle in all decisions. Faculty will continue to work as determined by their spring schedule. With respect to our faculty, work assignments are addressed in the recent MOU between FUSA and the College.
I also remain aware of the needs of those employees who could be profoundly affected by COVID’s impact. Thus, for those staff members requesting to work exclusively from home, we will be following our formal ADA processes and federal guidelines as referenced above. To request an ADA accommodation or for additional details about the process, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the College will also periodically review both new and existing accommodations in conjunction with supervisors to ensure that the accommodation still reflects the needs of the employee and the department.
Ken Atwater, Ph.D.
I want to provide the college with an update on our return-to-the-nest plans. The campuses have been incredibly busy preparing for their reopening to students next week. As I have previously shared, new signage for social and physical distancing reminders have been installed, in addition to the rearrangement of spaces. Hand sanitizer and masks are available in every College building, and we are in the process of equipping all classrooms and labs with an additional supply of wipes prior to the start of classes. Additionally, COVID kiosks containing infrared thermometers for voluntary temperature checks are being placed at each of our facilities. We have specific details on the College’s intranet as well as Back to Campus for prospective students. I want to draw particular attention to the new employee Q&A that addresses many of the questions that we have been receiving. Also included in the Q&A is the Hawk Tracing protocol that is now in place should we receive information about a positive test. Student-specific information is included on their respective intranet, and we are continuously updating the college’s external website.
I have been closely monitoring the volume of local cases as well as the decisions being made by the School District of Hillsborough County and our sister institutions. I want you and this community to feel confident that we are putting the proper measures in place to protect our students, faculty and staff to the best of our abilities and have contingency plans ready should we need to alter operations.
I sincerely want to thank everyone for your dedication to your jobs and our students during this incredibly stressful and chaotic time. Please know that I share in your apprehension and look forward to a time, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, when we will return to some sense of normalcy. This pandemic is affecting so many of you in a profound way, and in spite of the turmoil, your resolve and spirit as we have kept HCC operating has been one of my proudest times as your president. You have proven what it means to be Hawk Strong!
Ken Atwater, Ph.D.
I want to provide the college with an update on our return-to-campus planning. We all have been watching the alarming increase in cases both in our region and across the state. It is particularly concerning that the most affected populations are those that would make up a large percentage of our students. I want to again emphasize that we will do everything we can to ensure your safety and that of our students and will not act in haste in the face of this compelling information.
Regardless of any announced dates, we have finalized as much of the planning that has been possible given the current set of conditions that we are operating under. Importantly, we have received direction from the Governor’s office that indicates his strong sentiment that we return to campus to start the fall semester. We have been working with local health officials in developing our protocols, and I believe that the current plan, which is clearly dynamic in nature, will provide us with a solid foundation to reopen safely.
Over the last few weeks, our campus teams have been working extraordinarily hard to develop operational protocols, make adjustments to the academic schedule, create physical distancing in our public spaces and classrooms, hang signage, and order PPE and hand sanitizers, in addition to countless other modifications necessary for a safe return to campus.
I encourage you to visit our SharePoint COVID site and Back to Campus for the latest information on our reopening plans. One of the most recent additions is Hawk Tracing that establishes the process to follow when a student or staff member tests positive. This has been one of the most important additions to our planning, and I have attached it for your review. It was developed by medical, legal and public health professionals working along with our internal task force, and I hope that you will agree that it adds a critical element in our ability to maintain a safe teaching and work environment.
I want to thank all of the work teams for their Herculean efforts. They have and continue to spend numerous hours researching and developing the resources necessary for our Return to the Nest. I am grateful for their dedication as well as the dedication each of you have provided in these unprecedented and anxious times.
I will provide another update later next week as we monitor the outbreak closely. In the interim, I hope that everyone has a very safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.
Ken Atwater, Ph.D.
I want to provide the college community with another update on our return-to-campus planning. The Cabinet met this morning and, out of an abundance of caution, made the decision to modify the dates for employees returning to the campuses as well as the date for students to be able to access the campuses. This is being done primarily for two reasons. First, we want to ensure that we are able to implement the safety protocols as recommended by our reopening work teams before our employees and students access the campuses. Second, we are also seeing a surge in new cases within both Hillsborough County and the state of Florida.
The revised dates of return for staff are now July 13 and July 27. The return date of August 13 for HCC faculty remains unchanged. It is our hope that we can provide some campus services to students beginning on July 20. You will receive additional information tomorrow from Human Resources that provides general guidance on returning to our campuses and facilities. However, as mentioned in last week’s email, supervisors will be communicating with their staff regarding specific details about their departments and individual concerns around our return.
We will continue to communicate with the college community as our plans evolve. I know that this is a time of great uncertainty, and I want to provide every assurance that we are being as thoughtful in our planning as we can. I truly appreciate everyone’s patience and the incredible resilience that you have shown during these unprecedented times. I know that we all look forward to seeing each other and our students back on campus in the near future.
Ken Atwater, Ph.D.