Previous COVID-19 Updates
Here is a record of previous updates to the HCC community. For the most current update, please visit coronavirus updates.
HCC takes the welfare of our College community seriously. On March 17, the Florida College System received direction from Governor Ron DeSantis regarding the transition of our operations to an online environment with specific guidance from federal, state and local health officials.
As you are aware, we are currently in week one of a two-week mid-term break, having extended our originally scheduled break by one week. The College’s leadership team has been actively planning for the move to a virtual online environment, and effective March 30, will be fully implementing those plans for the remainder of the spring term, wherever possible. We are also working to accommodate those limited instances where courses cannot be moved online, i.e. clinicals and vocational training with hands-on components, and will adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for high-risk individuals.
Students will receive communication from their faculty regarding the transition of their courses next week. We will also be sending additional information regarding services, including financial aid, libraries and other academic support services early next week.
College facilities will remain closed with limited exceptions through the spring term which is now scheduled to end on May 11. Supervisors are currently modifying their departmental continuity of operations plans to include staff working remotely. The College will also cancel all events and activities, including commencement through the end of the spring term.
I know you will have many questions and our team is working diligently to answer all that we can with the information available. In these unprecedented times, I am truly humbled by the efforts of our faculty and staff. You have come together to ensure our students have minimal impact to their learning environment. It is because of you we can continue to serve as that beacon of hope, truly demonstrating what the word community is all about.
Dr. Ken Atwater
Dear HCC International (F-1 visa) Students,
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, specifically the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), announced on March 13, 2020 that colleges may temporarily adapt their programs and school operations to manage public health needs during the COVID-19 crisis. In response, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) is issuing the following policy statement affecting HCC international (F-1 visa) students.
Given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 emergency, Dr. Ken Atwater, HCC President, is authorizing online learning for HCC international (F-1 visa) students who decide to return to their home countries, complete their spring 2020 coursework online and maintain valid visa status.
HCC students attending the College on F-1 visas who decide to return home and complete coursework online must follow the procedures issued by the HCC Center for International Education in order to maintain valid visa status (see separate communication).
Please be advised that this is a temporary policy in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 health emergency. Hillsborough Community College will notify SEVP of our decision to provide international (F-1 visa) students the option of completing coursework online through the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.
If you decide to travel or return to the U.S. on your active Form I-20, please remember that you will still be subject to port-of-entry entrance and quarantine/isolation restrictions related to COVID-19. Click here to read up-to-date government travel information.
HCC shares in the concern for the health, safety and welfare of our College community. We continue to work in partnership with federal, state and local officials and are prepared to respond to their recommendations.
To that end, we have decided to extend mid-term break and close all operations until Sunday, March 29. Business continuity may require essential personnel to report to work during this period. We will resume classes and operations on Monday, March 30.
During this period, we will continue to actively plan for a potential transition of the delivery of our classes and services to an online environment wherever possible.
Upon return, College events, activities and travel will remain suspended through April 6.
We will provide frequent updates through all of our communication channels and continue to make decisions in the best interest of HCC students, faculty and staff. We appreciate everyone’s patience and flexibility during this unprecedented public health event.
Dr. Ken Atwater
I want to provide the College community with another update on our continuity of operations planning as it relates to COVID-19. Late yesterday, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran advised the Florida College System to remain open based on the most recent advisement from health officials. We are currently planning to open as scheduled following the mid-term break, but we will continue to monitor the situation and are prepared to act swiftly should we need to alter our operations.
As a reminder to faculty and staff, please continue to make the necessary preparations in order to transition to a remote working environment should conditions further deteriorate. For faculty, please follow the guidance that was provided by Vice President of Academic Affairs Rich Senker earlier this week. Supervisors are asked to work with your staff to identify and implement the necessary arrangements for your staff to work remotely if possible. Vice President of Information Technology Daya Pendharkar sent instructions yesterday for VPN access approval. Both communications are available on the Coronavirus website and on the SharePoint homepage.
In addition to the previously announced suspension of nonessential travel, effective at the close of business on March 13, all college events and activities, including All College Day, are suspended until April 6 to help mitigate the potential spread of germs. As has been previously mentioned, the College’s cleaning contractor is providing additional cleaning services utilizing CDC recommended cleaning products. I have also made the decision to waive the deductible for both testing and treatment for COVID-19 for all of those covered by the College’s health insurance.
During the break, we will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 closely and communicate any updates through the College’s communication channels. I want to assure you that we are prepared to take immediate action to support the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff.
Dr. Ken Atwater
TO: Florida College Presidents
FROM: Kathy Hebda
DATE: March 11, 2020
SUBJECT: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Updates
Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-52, declaring a State of Emergency in Florida for COVID-19. By declaring a State of Emergency, Governor DeSantis is ensuring that the state and local governments have the resources and flexibility they need to prepare and respond. Florida’s student population is at a low risk, but Florida is in a constant state of preparation to respond to COVID-19 and FDOE is available to assist as needed. Daily updates will be posted on the FDOH website and the FDOE website, and we will continue to provide regular updates.
As of yesterday, there were 21 total cases of COVID-19 in Florida and two deaths have occurred. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ruled Florida’s student population is at low-risk. However, as COVID-19 evolves, now is the time for all Floridians to prepare, and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) understands that concerns about health and safety are paramount for all education communities.
Based on our most recent communications, you will find helpful recommendations, guidelines and communications resources to keep your students and staff at low-risk and up-to-date, below:
College-related Travel Recommendations
FDOE is recommending that state colleges and K-12 school districts temporarily postpone all out-of-state, by plane travel. While this is just a recommendation and we understand the complications this can create in the near term, we believe this recommendation is in the best interests of the health of all students, faculty and staff. The local county health departments and our team at the Florida Department of Education would be happy to discuss strategies with you around implementing similar best practices in order to reduce the risks to your students.
General Travel Recommendations
With educators, students, and families returning from spring break soon, FDOE recommends state colleges and K-12 school districts strictly follow CDC International Travel Advisory Guidelines, per the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which is advising all individuals who have traveled internationally to follow the new CDC guidelines, summarized below:
- If you have traveled to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea (Warning Level 3): CDC recommends 14-day self-isolation and social distancing upon return to the United States. Social distancing includes avoiding going out in public and close personal interactions.
- A person that experiences a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and any other destination under a CDC travel advisory should call ahead to their health care provider and local county health department (CHD) and mention their recent travel or close contact.
- If you have traveled to Japan (Alert Level 2): CDC recommends that travelers should monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning to the United States. If you become symptomatic, immediately self-isolate and contact your county health department before visiting your health care provider.
- If a person has had close contact with an individual who has recently traveled to these destinations and has shown symptoms, they should also call their county health department and health care provider. The health care provider will work with the Department of Health to determine if that person should be tested for COVID-19.
- Cruises: CDC recommends travelers defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.
- Based on the CDC guidance, FDOE recommends that if you are returning from a cruise, and are symptomatic to self-isolate and contact your doctor and local health department.
- Regarding work-related travel, consider using the same recommendations for both employees and student-groups. Look ahead to upcoming travel for the next three months and put together criteria to make consistent determinations about travel, especially considering that information and requirements/recommendations from CDC and FDOH can change.
- For more information regarding current CDC travel advisories related to COVID-19, click here.
Informed Communications on COVID-19
In coordination with the FDOH and the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM), FDOE recommends the following sources and best practices to assist with community mitigation and preparedness.
- Schools, school districts, colleges and universities are encouraged to contact their local health department for the most up-to-date information and assistance, regarding COVID-19. County health departments are fully integrated with the FDOH and the CDC and are well equipped to respond if necessary.
- Please visit FDOH’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage or FDOE’s webpage for information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida.
- For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, please contact the FDOH’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-(866) 779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours a day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- Helpful information can also be found at the following websites:
- FDOH: http://www.floridahealth.gov/
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/
- FDOE: http://fldoe.org/em-response/
- Please see this helpful flier from the CDC related to handwashing and hand sanitizer.
- Please see this helpful flier from the CDC related to stopping the spread of germs.
- CDC has published Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to COVID-19.
- CDC has also published Interim Guidance for Business and Employers, we strongly suggest school districts and school administration to review this guidance.
- COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces. Other people may contract COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days following exposure. Most people recover from COVID-19 without needing special treatment. The elderly and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
- Recent reports have stated that on average, symptoms of COVID-19 develop in 5 days.
- CDC said most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China have occurred in adults, and infection among children was relatively uncommon.
- The CDC does not recommend that asymptomatic, healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
We appreciate your tremendous commitment to Florida’s students. We are including with this memorandum an updated Question and Answer guide that you and your entire educational community can utilize to become more informed on COVID-19 preparation and response.
Lastly, if you are contemplating a campus closure, we respectfully request that you contact us as soon as possible, so that we may work with you to ensure that our students’ interests are always front and center.
Florida’s student population is a low risk, but Florida is in a constant state of preparation to respond to COVID-19 and FDOE is available to assist as needed. Daily updates will be posted on the FDOH website and the FDOE website, and we will continue to provide regular updates.
In light of the ongoing global response to the COVID-19 and its impact on our F-1 students, we want to provide you with multiple methods of communicating with our office. We understand that you may have many questions or concerns, and we want you to know we are accessible to you.
As of right now HCC will be closed during the week of March 16–21 for the Spring Break. We are scheduled to re-open and resume classes on Monday March 23rd. If this changes, we will notify you by email and we will post a notice on CANVAS. Students are expected to be present in the U.S. by March 23rd even if classes are moved online or if HCC remains closed beyond the 23rd. Federal regulations require F-1 students to be present in the U.S. to maintain visa status.
HOW TO REACH YOUR INTERNATIONAL ADVISER
2. SKYPE – You can use our names, emails or phone numbers to reach us by video.
3. CANVAS – Canvas has a chat function and we will be monitoring it.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE VIRUS AND/OR CHANGES TO HCC OPERATIONS
We are here to serve you so please reach out to us with any questions or concerns.
Glorianna Felix, MLIS
Manager, International Student Programs
SEVIS Designated School Official
Hillsborough Community College
Center for International Education
HCC continues to monitor developments around coronavirus (COVID-19), and I would like to provide an update for employees and supervisors as we prepare for the mid-term break. As has been previously communicated, HCC has canceled all official college international travel activities for spring break, including those for study abroad, student clubs or department-sponsored programs or conferences.
For those traveling over the break, we encourage you to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations by risk level and presence of symptoms. As there have now been identified cases in Florida including multiple cases in the Tampa Bay area, the College has been making preparations to modify operations, including moving to an online delivery format should health officials make such a recommendation. Faculty are encouraged to use this time to explore how your course(s) can transition to an online format whenever possible, should alternative formats become necessary.
Upon return from break, employees who have symptoms of respiratory illness should stay home and should not return to work until they are free of fever (100.4 degrees), signs of fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants) according to the CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers. As with any absence, please inform your supervisor in advance. When possible, arrangements may be made for employees to work from home until they are able to return to the workplace. Employees who are not able to work remotely will be able to use their sick leave (and vacation leave if necessary) to maintain their pay during this period. Before authorizing remote work, supervisors should consult with Barbara Nielsen at X7038 or email@example.com or Kristen Smuder at X7180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supervisors who observe an employee who comes in to work sick should work with Human Resources to send the employee home until they meet the guidelines listed above and determine whether or not remote work would be feasible.
As a reminder, the College is following CDC guidance that reminds us of actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory disease, such as hand washing and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. I also want to remind you that for employees covered under the Humana health plan, Doctor on Demand service is available as an option when seeking medical care and can be accessed through the MyHumana app.
We will continue to send updates as this rapidly evolving situation further develops. Updates will be emailed and posted on the College’s external website and on the SharePoint intranet, and I encourage you to check for these updates.
I hope that you have a safe, healthy and restful break.
Dr. Ken Atwater
Dear HCC Faculty,
The College leadership continues to monitor the evolving developments with coronavirus (COVID-19). The safety of our community is our priority. The College is taking guidance from local health officials and the Commissioner of Education’s Office. We have been cautiously planning for possible interruptions to our normal instructional operations. With this email, I am asking you to consider alternatives to face-to-face instruction should students and faculty need to be away from class for a prolonged period of time. Additionally, I ask that we be flexible with our students throughout this situation.
As part of our emergency Continuity of Operation Plan (COOP), CITT Faculty Professional Development is providing you with course preparation recommendations for your campus-based courses, as well as steps for communicating with CITT in the event of any temporary closures.
Preparation: Transition Campus-based Materials for Use in Canvas
- Update Canvas Skills
- The Canvas training, the Canvas Assistance Center course, should be in your list of Canvas courses. If you do not see the course in your list of Canvas courses, please email Tammy Searle at email@example.com and request course access. Complete this training to update your Canvas skills.
- Use a previous course shell to practice your Canvas skills to include uploading files, creating an assignment, creating a discussion, and creating a quiz/test. Old course shells that are unpublished to students can be used to practice Canvas.
- Prepare current course documents
- Have a digital copy of all course handouts, presentations, instruction sheets, etc.
- Place digitized documents and files in a location that is accessible to you outside of your college computer. (Flash drive, cloud storage, Canvas Files area, etc.)
- Plan your method of communicating with students during college closure.
- The easiest form of communication is the Inbox in Canvas. Inbox is a course-specific email tool.
- The Announcements tool in Canvas can be used to communicate with the entire class at once.
COOP Course Shell in Canvas
CITT created a course shell, specific to emergency college closure, designed for campus-based courses and materials.
- Copy the COOP Course Shell into a Canvas sandbox course and begin reviewing. Attached is a tutorial in pdf format for accessing and installing the COOP course shell. Alternatively, please feel free to view the tutorial video. (NOTE: Use your Net ID to log into Relay.)
- Review the COOP course shell, including the home page and the Instructor module.
- Two identical sample modules are included in COOP that you can use to add content. Review one sample module.
- You can copy the COOP shell into an existing course that you web-enhance. It will not delete assignments or grades. If you do this, make sure to un-publish the COOP sample modules and change your course home page back to your original page.
College Closure – Contacting CITT for Assistance
CITT staff will work remotely in the event of a college closure. The primary focus is to assist campus-based faculty in creating Canvas courses, so that course operations continue. However, we are happy to assist with hybrid and online courses as well.
To Prepare for CITT Assistance
- Copy the COOP course shell into your empty Canvas section.
- Create a list of specific questions for the CITT Instructional Designer. What do you need help doing?
- Email your request for assistance, a list of questions, and a phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. (NOTE: Please do not email individual instructional designers. We will facilitate all communication through CITT email.)
- Your email is in a queue. The next available Instructional Designer will contact you. Please have your course materials and question list readily available.
- CITT Instructional Designers will not be able to build courses for you. They will address your specific questions to help you build your courses.
- CITT Instructional Designers will not be able to provide detailed Canvas training during college closure. It is important for you to complete the Preparation activities if you are teaching campus-based courses. Doing so will enable you to quickly develop Canvas-ready materials.
We appreciate your patience as the College prepares emergency options. Please know that the CITT staff will be working diligently so that you can continue to serve your students.
Dr. Richard Senker
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
As has been shared in recent communications from Dr. Atwater, HCC is continuing to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Your health and safety and that of our students and staff remain our top priority during this evolving situation. There are currently three confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Florida. Thankfully, there has been no established connection to our college community at this time; however, we are actively planning to ensure continuity of our operations, including the provision of academic delivery and support services in the event that they are disrupted.
This Thursday, our crisis management team will convene to continue our planning efforts. This group is comprised of representatives from academic affairs, student services, faculty, Office of Information Technology (OIT), legal, public safety, marketing, facilities, finance, human resources, and risk management. We will be reviewing our Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) as it pertains to the coronavirus and assessing our ability to continue delivering a seamless academic experience should the conditions warrant a deviation. The COOP review will include instructional delivery, student services and technology support, and the administrative services necessary to support these areas.
As we update our COOP, I ask that each of you review your syllabi and consider alternatives to customary course delivery, including potential modifications that can provide flexibility in course delivery and minimize disruption, and the support services will be required in order to do so.
I also want to remind faculty that we cannot send students home whom we deem to be potential risks or require a doctor’s certification in order to return to class. Instead, we urge students, faculty, and staff alike to exercise prudent decision-making and ask that they stay home when sick.
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide you with updates as new information becomes available. I encourage you to visit the HCC coronavirus website for updates at hccfl.edu/coronavirus.
Thank you in advance for your assistance and thoughtful planning as we work through this evolving situation together.
Dr. Richard Senker
Vice President for Academic Affairs
To: School District Superintendents, Administrators, and Educators
From: Chancellor Jacob Oliva
Date: March 3, 2020
Subject: Florida Preparedness for COVID-19 (coronavirus)
Two cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) were recently confirmed in Florida, leading to Governor Ron DeSantis and State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees declaring a public health emergency (Executive Order 20-51). Currently, there is still a low risk in Florida. Planning and preparing is always important, and the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) understands that concerns about health and safety are paramount for all education communities. Schools, school districts, colleges and universities are encouraged to contact their local health department for the most up-to-date information and assistance regarding COVID-19. County health departments are fully integrated with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and are well equipped to respond if necessary. The CDC has also published Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare, and Respond to COVID-19.
COVID-19 is spread similarly to the flu, mostly through contact from an infected individual and transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Common symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and lower and upper respiratory issues. It is more likely to occur in the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and most individuals with the virus will have a mild case and will be able to be treated at home.
As COVID-19 evolves, the most important thing for schools to do is plan and prepare:
- Review, update and implement emergency operations plans. This should be done in collaboration with local health departments.
- Ensure handwashing strategies include washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Develop information-sharing systems with parents and local partners.
- Perform routine cleaning, including frequently touched surfaces.
The Florida Department of Health is able to test for COVID-19 in labs in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa, allowing tests results to be available within 24 to 48 hours. If you come into contact with an individual who has recently traveled to an area that the CDC has issued a level 2 or level 3 travel health notice such as China, Italy, South Korea and Japan, there are protocols in place:
- Immediately contact your local county health department upon developing symptoms, before visiting a doctor.
- Individuals will be evaluated at any local hospital. ANY local hospital is equipped to handle COVID-19. Testing will be conducted in Jacksonville, Miami or Tampa.
- The goal is containment to stop any transmission.
It is currently flu season, and we encourage you to continue to stress these common guidelines with all members of the school community, students, staff, and parents:
- Get a flu shot, and take flu antivirals if prescribed.
- If you are sick, stay home.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Carry and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Immediately dispose of used tissue.
- Monitor your symptoms.
Lastly, an emerging trend nationally is for educational institutions to take additional precautions regarding students, staff and administrators who may be returning from overseas travel to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan. Florida’s state universities and colleges are now requiring those students to self-isolate for 14 days, before returning to campus, as well as cancelling university- and college-sponsored travel to these countries. Our team at the Florida Department of Education would be happy to discuss strategies with you around implementing similar best practices, in order to reduce the risks to your students.
Helpful information can be found at the following websites:
- Florida Department of Health
- Centers for Disease Control
- Florida Department of Education
- Please see this helpful flier from the CDC related to handwashing and hand sanitizer.
- Please see this helpful flier from the CDC related to stopping the spread of germs.
Florida is doing everything in their power to prepare and respond to COVID-19 and the Florida Department of Education is available to assist as needed. Daily updates will be posted on the DOH website, and rest assured FDOE will provide you with updates as we have them.
To reiterate, there is still a low risk in Florida. Florida is fully prepared to respond to COVID-19. We will continue to provide regular updates.
Dear HCC Community,
I want to provide an update to the college community regarding the coronavirus and HCC’s response, given the latest news including a presumptive positive case in Hillsborough County. The college already has a well-established Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) that provides a detailed operational guide should our ability to conduct the day-to-day operations of the college be compromised, with an overarching goal of providing educational delivery to our students with as little disruption as possible.
We remain in contact with Florida Department of Health officials to ensure that we are making decisions that are in the best interest of our students, faculty and staff. To that end, HCC has instituted a prohibition on all college-related overseas travel for faculty, students and staff for those countries identified on the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory List. We have also assembled a task force that is actively planning for a potential outbreak within our community. Our efforts include coordination with our partners at the Florida Department of Health and our State Risk Management Consortium who are working closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control to monitor the virus and provide recommendations for personal safety. We have also asked our cleaning contractor to increase the frequency of cleaning and replacement of the commercial grade hand sanitizing stations throughout the district as an added preventative strategy.
Again, I want to encourage everyone to take the precautions that are advised during this cold and flu season including staying home if you are not feeling well, frequent hand washing and covering your mouth when coughing.
Dr. Ken Atwater