USF Housing and Residential Education sent out an email April 2 informing students who are away from campus that they are not permitted to come back to their dorms to retrieve their personal belongings until “notified otherwise,” rescinding its previous notification to residents.
Students were scheduled to move out from April 8 to May 10 and pack up their belongings for the remainder of the year, but those dates are suspended and there is no set date for when students can return.
“Given the ever-changing dynamic of the COVID-19 crisis, we are not able to predict when we will issue a new move-out schedule,” the email said. “We do not anticipate move-outs will begin before mid-May.”
This decision stems from the executive order Gov. Ron DeSantis enacted from April 1-30, according to the email, which may be extended depending on the status of the pandemic in Florida by the end of the month.
The order states that Floridians should stay at home for the next 30 days and only leave for “essential services,” such as groceries or medication.
Assistant Vice President of Housing and Residential Education Ana Hernandez said adherence to the executive order comes from wanting to keep the USF community safe and healthy.
“Given the COVID-19 emergency that is hitting Florida, and the nation, we want to make sure we are doing everything to keep our student community and staff safe,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez also ensures that student belongings are secure in their dorms.
“When students left for spring break they closed their doors and locked their rooms, and that is the condition they will find them when they return,” Hernandez said.
She also said that buildings are secure, card access to the buildings are being turned off and there is supplemental security in the area. Also, live-in staff are monitoring the activity inside the dorms.
The email said “housing offices and 24-hour desks will not be open on campus” while the executive order is active. However, Hernandez said the housing staff is still accessible even though in-person walk-ins are not permitted in the office at this time.
“We have closed the in-person offices, but staff is still available to respond via our email,” Hernandez said.“If someone emails and asks the staff to call them we are happy to speak with them over the phone.”
Hernandez said following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and executive orders issued by the government is the department’s priority to ensure everyone stays healthy.
“We are busy, but we are trying to do the right thing,” Hernandez said. “We appreciate everyone’s flexibility and understanding.”