USF Bookstore to carry out textbook returns through mail, cap and gown returns still up in the air

Students can return their rented textbooks by mailing them in with the free shipping labels found on their USF Bookstore account. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

With over 7,640 book rentals in need of return and about 1,500 purchased caps and gowns sitting in students’ homes, the USF Bookstore has some challenges to overcome due to the store’s closure.

Normally at this time of the spring semester, students would be preparing to return their textbooks or purchasing their graduation regalia. Now, the bookstore has had to accommodate students miles — even thousands of miles — away because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The bookstore extended its rental deadlines, with no finalized dates, due to those experiencing unprecedented circumstances.

Students will be able to return their books by mailing them in with a free shipping label found on their USF Bookstore account.

Students who need to return caps and gowns have a less clear-cut process ahead of them.

It is still undecided for some whether or not they will return their regalia, which can range in cost from $67 and up, depending on the degree awarded, from bachelor’s to doctorate. However, for other graduating students, they plan on keeping it as they still expect to participate in the August commencement ceremonies.

“I’m keeping mine to use in the summer,” said senior Kaylie Caraway.

Other students have more reasons than just their plans to walk across the Yuengling Center stage in August — they haven’t been able to take graduation photos yet.

“[I’m] keeping [the cap and gown] because I still haven’t taken pictures, and I plan on walking in August,” said senior student Christine Otero. “Plus, I already decorated my cap.”

Another senior, Katelyn Rosenblum, was also prepared for May commencement.

“I will be keeping [my cap and gown],” said Rosenblum. “The cap has already been decorated and I plan to walk in August.”

For those who have not yet decorated their caps and plan to return their regalia, the bookstore is still working on options for those students.

“We are looking for options for those who will be moving out of the state or the country and will not be able to attend [the August commencement ceremony],” bookstore director Nando Padula said. “It is very important for those students looking for returns that their regalia is still unopened and unworn.”

As for used and unused books, the bookstore is still buying them back.

“Students always have the option to sell their books online,” said Padula. “We buy back books every day. Even if you didn’t purchase them from [the USF Bookstore].”

Although the bookstore has had to furlough several employees due to its closure, there are still some staff members working “on site” so that its operations may continue as it prepares to reopen.

“Most of our work can’t be done remotely as we process online orders for our students,” said Padula. “We receive books for summer and fall as well as merchandise on a daily basis to be able to reopen doors as soon as it is safe.”

For staff members that have been temporarily laid off, their expectations of when they will be returning to work is unclear.

“There’s hope of me getting my job back when the school reopens, but who knows when that’ll be,” said furloughed USF Bookstore employee Jelena Milosavljević.

Padula expects that most of the USF Bookstore’s employees will return in the coming weeks.

“Most of them will be coming back on April 19 and May 3 as we prepare for summer [classes].”

The bookstore will be preparing for the summer semester, but it is still unclear whether students will be able to purchase or rent their books in person.

Regardless, Padula said the bookstore is keeping an eye on updates from the university as the COVID-19 situation unfolds.

“We will be prepared and ready to open when USF tells us it’s safe to open,” said Padula.