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July 30, 2020


All Graduate Deans, Associate Deans, School Directors, Department Chairs, Coordinators, and Staff


Henry T. Frierson, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President and Dean
UF Graduate School


Caution About Welcoming New Students Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the point of this memorandum has likely already occurred to you, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," as the saying goes.

Please make sure that all events associated with college or department welcome and orientation of new graduate students are in sync with safety and health precautions amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of the customary informational aspects of welcome and orientation - such as introducing students, staff, and faculty; going over program expectations and procedures; and explaining registration processes - can occur effectively in online venues such as Zoom.

Additionally, materials such as student handbooks can be distributed and reviewed without hardcopies or in-person contact, as PDF files or other digital media shared via email or websites links.

Needless to say, degree programs, departments, and colleges are expected to forego any and all parties, meals, gatherings, or other in-person activities that over the years may have come to be considered routine in welcoming new students. We all know the value that informal socializing brings, in normal times, to building the campus culture and camaraderie we want to achieve. But Fall 2020 is not going to be normal. There ought to be no in-person activities in which safe social distancing and wearing of face coverings cannot be scrupulously maintained. Indoor gatherings, and those of more than 10 people, are especially risky and ought not to occur.

You are also expected to actively discourage any events that your graduate students or their organizations might seek to arrange to welcome their new colleagues - such as private house parties, happy hours, barbeques, potlucks, receptions, dances, outings, and the like.

Thank you for doing everything possible to foster the safety, health, and well-being of one and all as our top priority while we embark on a new academic year amid the unprecedented challenge of a global pandemic that is putting Florida to the test.

We are all in this together, and each of us must do our part for the common good.