Coronavirus: UFSC Central Administration decides to suspend on-campus classes

04:12 PM

Members of the Central Administration and technical team met on Sunday 15th. Photo: Mayra Cajueiro Warren / Agecom / UFSC

The multidisciplinary committee created at the beginning of the month at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) met for the third time on Sunday, 15 March, at the Rectorate Building Hall, in Florianópolis. The agenda included the most recent data regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the university community.

After the technical meeting, the Central Administration decided to maintain the contingency measures announced last Thursday and suspend all in-person classes on all UFSC campuses, beginning on Monday, 16 March, and also to close the University Restaurants (RUs) and the University Library from Tuesday, 17 March. The restriction will extend for an indefinite period and implies that new actions can be adopted in the next days.

UFSC recommends the student community to stay at home and avoid seeking health services unless really necessary. In case of any doubts about the symptoms, the student must contact, in Florianópolis, the Alô Saúde Floripa service, via telephone 0800-333-3233, before going to health centers and emergency care units (UPA).

 “It is important that the University Directors and the Councils get organized, not in-person, preferably, in order to define strategic measures for the use of distance learning technologies in this peculiar moment”, emphasized the Rector Ubaldo Cesar Balthazar.

“There is no communication of suspected or confirmed cases which are related to the UFSC community”, stressed the Head of the Rector’s Office, Áureo Mafra de Moraes. “But severe containment measures are essential at this moment, so that our community does not become another stressor for the public health system in the State of Santa Catarina”.

The committee discussed the local, national and international data regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and talked about the measures already adopted by the University and by the city and state authorities. In a second moment, at the Rector’s Office, the members of the Central Administration discussed the measures being taken by other institutions and how to proceed at UFSC.

The major concern is to assure the safety of more than 41 thousand students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, at the Child Development Center and at the Colégio de Aplicação [Laboratory School], as well as of those who depend on the University Restaurant to eat and who use the University Library, in addition to the large community of faculty and technical-administrative staff members. The actions of awareness and dissemination of the main measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus did not have the desired effect, as most part of the meeting participants observed.

The Prorector for Student Affairs, Pedro Manique Barreto, emphasized that there are more than 11 thousand people who go to the University Restaurant daily. Around 6 thousand students have a socioeconomic registration and are exempted from the restaurant fees, of which 3 thousand go to the University Restaurant daily. Additionally, only on the Florianópolis Campus, there are 200 workers in the Restaurant. “In a little more than one week of classes, all of our supply of hand sanitizer for the year of 2020 has been used. We did renovations on the external sinks, as well as protocols to change the buffet scoops every twenty minutes, but yet the measures are not enough to avoid the spread of the virus”, the Prorector noted.

The Prorector for Personnel Management and Development, Carla Burigo, brought information regarding the leave possibilities for workers considered to be in the vulnerable groups (people with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, and immunocompromised people in general) and those over 60 years old. Other possible measures, such as distance work, will be further analyzed for the administrative sectors.

“We decided that it is better to give our faculty and technical-administrative staff over 60 years old the option to stay at home, looking after the safety of their family and their own. We are suspending trainings, postdoctoral research leaves and participation in events that imply travelling, at least for the next months”, she declared. The execution of recruitment processes will be evaluated in the next days.

The workers who wish to apply for a preventive leave, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, must send their medical records to pericia@contato.ufsc.br, which will be analyzed by the Official Medical Board. According to the information revealed by the technical team, the workers who do not fit into those risk groups, must mind a distance of at least one meter (1m) between work stations, as well as avoid crowds and in-person meetings. In addition, they must keep workplaces airy and naturally ventilated, wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer when unable to wash hands.

The participants of the Sunday meeting were the University’s Rector, Ubaldo Balthazar, the Head of the Rector’s Office, Áureo Mafra de Moraes, the Director of the Rector’s Office, Álvaro Lezana, the Institutional Advisor, Gerson Albuquerque, the Prorector for Student Affairs, Pedro Manique Barreto, the Prorector for Personnel Management and Development, Carla Dutra Burigo, the Secretary for Institutional Security, Leandro Oliveira, the Head of the University Hospital’s Communication Unit, Ricardo Torres, the University Hospital’s infectious disease specialist, Ivete Masukawa, the UFSC Official Medical Board member, Juliana Fernandes Vieira, and the Director of the UFSC Communication Agency (AGECOM), Mayra Cajueiro Warren. Luciane de Medeiros dos Santos, analyst of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Santa Catarina State, also attended the meeting, representing the Prosecutor Douglas Roberto Martins.

Read the Central Administration’s announcement below.

Official announcement

Considering:

  1. The imminent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases;
  2. That every propagated epidemic, with person-to-person spread, in which multiplicity of contacts occurs, without knowledge of the propagating source, is potentially very serious;
  3. The confirmation of five COVID-19 cases in the state of Santa Catarina, including one in the surroundings of the Reitor João David Ferreira Lima Campus (Florianópolis Campus), area where most part of the university community circulates;
  4. The Florianópolis Municipal Decree, which bans indoor events with less than 2 meters distance between the participants;
  5. The propagation potential of spaces such as the University Restaurant and the University Library, which present an extreme risk;
  6. The implementation of special precautions for vulnerable groups, such as older adults, chronically ill people and immunocompromised people, including for faculty and technical-administrative staff members;
  7. The necessity to severely reduce the circulation of people on all UFSC campuses, in order to minimize risks of mass infection;

We announce that on-campus classes, at all education levels and on all UFSC campuses, are suspended from Monday, 16 March 2020, with the interruption of the University Restaurant and the University Library services for an indefinite period.

This Monday, a Rector’s Ordinance will be published with this decision, followed by detailed instructions on the implementation of the above measures, including for technical and administrative activities.

Additionally, we inform that a Committee formed by specialists and managers will keep monitoring the situation and, in due time, may inform new measures.

We reiterate the importance of maintaining the respiratory and contact etiquettes, as well as following the precautions widely disseminated by the health authorities regarding hygiene, on the expectation that, with the suspension of classes, people will adopt the necessary precautions and stay at their homes.

Florianópolis, 15 March 2020.