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All USF campuses closed for first day of school

At 6:15 p.m, all USF campuses were declared closed for Monday, pushing back the first day of the fall semester.

Though 15 minutes earlier, an alert had declared USF Tampas campus open, as the county declared of a state of emergency, all public schools were declared closed, and all first-day events during the Republican National Convention (RNC) were cancelled, clouds began to hang over the first day of classes at the USF Tampa campus.

As Tropical Storm Isaac made its way through the Florida Keys and appeared to likely bypass Tampa as it was projected to make landfall in the Florida panhandle, classes at the St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland campuses were called off for Monday late Sunday afternoon.

USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez said the decision to close campuses were made by USFs Emergency Management team, which received information from federal and state agencies.

USFs Weather Center issued a statement at 3:45 p.m. Sunday stating that while the Tampa Bay region remained under tropical storm watch, Isaacs path had moved westward.

Wind speeds are expected to reach up to 35 mph in Tampa, according to The Weather Channel, and Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement Sunday urging visitors not to travel to Tampa, simply because he was afraid of their ability to travel back.

Many students were disappointed when the Tampa campus remained open on the first day of classes, which by law mandates attendance to be taken. Those who dont attend class will be dropped, though some students have been excused from classes to participate in the RNC.

Some Tampa campus professors began canceling their first-day courses anyway.

Laura Enger, a senior majoring in special education, said she lives in Manatee County and takes classes at both the Sarasota-Manatee and Tampa campuses. As she was formulating an email to send her Tampa professors, she received a Blackboard alert stating she didnt have to drive to Tampa.

At least my professors knew not to take that risk, she said. I dont know why USF would keep classes open (in Tampa). Did they want me to drive through tropical storm weather? Other students shouldnt (have felt) like they have to go to class because theyre afraid of being dropped. They (should have) just email their professors.

While essential personnel are required to report to USFs campuses, many students expressed relief over the closure, posting on social media sites comments like Thank goodness!, and Its about time.

Wade-Martinez said the Emergency Management Team would continue to monitor the situation.