ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After reports of large gatherings during the Labor Day weekend, University of Central Florida officials issued a warning to students Tuesday informing them behavior that could spread COVID-19 could result in punishment for violating university policy.
According to the UCF student behavioral policy put in place Sept. 1, all students, regardless of whether they are on or off campus, must adhere to guidelines including social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
Students are not to engage in conduct that would endanger the safety, health and well being of others, including limiting gatherings of 12 or more.
“As we return from Labor Day weekend, we are aware that some students chose to ignore university policies and health measures and attended large gatherings while not wearing face coverings and not physically distancing,” UCF said in a community update Tuesday.
According to the student COVID-19 policy, the university will seek compliance through education and warnings, at first, but “repeated acts of non-compliance may result in the individual’s removal from campus until compliance is achieved. Continued non-compliance may result in a more severe response – specifically, disciplinary action, up to and including separation from the university; removal from campus, including trespass orders as necessary. Flagrant, repeated, or egregious behavior may automatically result in a referral to Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.”
UCF sophomore Nicole Rave-Torres said safety is key both on and off-campus to try and stop the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m not going to any parties or big gatherings. All of my club meetings are on zoom,” Torres said.
Freshman student Gabrielle Phillipps told News 6 this year isn’t her ideal first year of college, but she’s trying her best to be safe.
“I’ve been wearing my mask basically everywhere. I have not been going to any parties, but I have heard there are parties,” said Phillipps.
She has advice for other students who take part in parties, large gatherings, and those who don’t abide by university regulations.
“Reevaluate your decisions and think about other people, and realize that not everything is about yourself,” she said.
UCF has been tracking and reporting cases connected to students and UCF faculty and staff through a dashboard. As of the end of last week, the university reported an increase in student positive cases up to 40 compared to previous weeks with less than 10 cases. Additionally, 34 students self-reported their positive cases. The numbers include both on and off campus cases.
Orange County health officials are closely monitoring the slight increase in COVID-19 cases in K-12 age groups as well as college students since campuses began welcoming students this past month.
At least three sorority houses at the University of Central Florida are in quarantine and that may grow to five, according to Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health-Orange County.
“That number can continue to increase. It could be up to five of those houses and that will include the residents and the staff that work in some of those houses, as well as some visitors and some activities, social activities that the students are taking on,” Pino said.
UCF leaders say students showing symptoms are asked to stay at home and call UCF’s COVID-19 line to have a test ordered. Students can be tested on campus or somewhere else nearby.