TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The presidents of Florida’s 12 state universities are asking students returning to campus for the fall semester to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

An open letter to students published Tuesday by the university system’s Board of Governors “strongly” recommended students get vaccinated before coming back to school. The letter was signed by the leaders of each state university.

READ MORE: New Travel Restrictions In Place, Dow Drops 905 Points Over New COVID Variant Concerns

“Since the onset of the pandemic, our successes are a result of our campus communities accepting a shared responsibility for their health and well-being and practicing recommended precautions. Being vaccinated can protect your health, and you are likely to avoid disruptions in your semester if you are exposed to COVID-19,” the letter said.

Board of Governors Chairman Syd Kitson and state university system Chancellor Marshall Criser also signed the letter. The recommendation came amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida that has been driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

With vaccination rates lagging, local officials across the state are ramping up messaging to urge people to get vaccinated.

READ MORE: Black Friday Shoppers Out Early Hoping To Score Deals

Florida A&M University launched a campaign last week aimed at providing incentives to students and employees to get vaccinated. The university said in a news release that it plans to give out $1 million in prizes, including cash, a laptop, and an iPad to students who get vaccinated.

The University of Florida issued an announcement on Friday to “urge the entire university community” to get vaccinated.

The state is not mandating that students get vaccinated, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly voiced opposition to such mandates.

MORE NEWS: Cold Fronts Bring More Than Just Cool Dry Air To South Florida

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

CBSMiami.com Team