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Go (home) Gators: UF moving classes online because of coronavirus

The university is encouraging professors to teach classes online to reduce chances of catching the virus. But it’s not mandatory — at least not yet.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Tampa Bay area. For the latest news on the outbreak, go to our coronavirus page, which we are updating regularly. You also can sign up for our DayStarter newsletter to have the day’s news sent right to your inbox each morning for free.

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The University of Florida wants to move classes online and reduce the time students and professors spend in classrooms due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The university sent a letter to its professors on Monday asking them to start making the switch immediately, if possible.

Professors are not yet required to switch classes to online-only. A UF spokesman said in an email, however, said that there is a ‘strong probability’ that will become required before the spring semester ends on May 1.

Students will be told by their professors whether their classes are moving online.

Related: Florida revises coronavirus travel advisory, pulling broad isolation suggestion

In an email, the university said it will hold in-person classes during the coming summer session. But it also said everyone should be prepared for the possibility that all classes will have to make the switch.

The University of South Florida’s last update was sent out Thursday, when officials said they were closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak, but no operations — outside of canceling some study abroad trips and increasing cleaning protocols — have been altered yet.

Universities around the country have also started implementing similar plans to UF’s to finish the semester.

The University of Washington said it was moving all classes for its 50,000 students online, while Stanford University announced that it was also moving classes online and would cancel those that could not make the transition. In New York City, Columbia University canceled classes Monday and Tuesday after a student started a self-quarantine.

Related: Coronavirus concerns force five Florida lawmakers to self-isolate — but not for long

Florida officials said Monday that it is monitoring 302 people for signs of the coronavirus and that a total of 1,104 people have been monitored since COVID-19, as the illness is technically known, was blamed for a global epidemic.

There have been 12 Floridians who have so far tested positive for coronavirus. Two of them have died. None of the victims in the state thus far have been college-aged.

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