More Details Emerge on Reopening Universities

More Details Emerge on Reopening Universities

By Ana Ceballos, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — A week after the state university system’s Board of Governors laid out a blueprint for how to reopen campuses in the fall, school officials are offering more details about what will change when students and faculty members come back.

The 12 state universities continue to work on plans, which they are supposed to present June 23 to the Board of Governors. The plans will flesh out details about issues such as student housing, academics, health protocols and athletics.

In the meantime, new details emerging this week could quell anxiety among students who have been wondering what is in store for them after being sent home in March to try to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

At Florida State University, for example, students with housing contracts were told on Monday that they should expect a number of adjustments to on-campus living when they are assigned to rooms in July.

The school, for example, will not assign triple or quadruple dorm rooms during the fall semester. Some games will not be available in residence halls. There will be no ice machines or microwaves in common kitchens. And students will be expected to wear face masks when gathering in lobbies, lounges and other public spaces.

“We also cannot guarantee you the full semester will be open for residential living. This again will be based on the campus decisions to provide the best conditions possible for healthy living,” FSU officials said in an email to students, obtained by The News Service of Florida.

The email added: “If the academic calendar availability is adjusted, the semester rental rate for on-campus halls and Seminole Dining plans will not be adjusted.”

University of Florida officials have already announced they will start the fall semester a week late on Aug. 31. But they are also proposing changes to the tail end of the semester.

During a UF Board of Trustees conference call on Thursday, officials said students may be given the option to finish the semester at home after the Thanksgiving break.

“We do not want to actually tell our students to go home because that, frankly, will open up the university to requests for tuition refunds,” Provost Joseph Glover said during the call.

The university’s draft reopening plan, released on Monday, notes that students and faculty members returning to classrooms will be required to wear face masks. The university will also put in place a coronavirus testing and screening program.

“Every single student is going to go through a screening test, which is an online series of questions that we’ve developed,” David Nelson, UF’s senior vice president for health affairs, said while noting the university will be looking for symptomatic or high-risk individuals.

Students flagged after the screening tests will get telehealth visits to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Students who are part of a “clinical setting,” including researchers, medical and pharmacy students, will also be required to be tested, Nelson said.

The university does not plan to test every student at the university. However, Nelson said the school will try to offer tests to people who express concerns about exposure to the virus.

Rather than conducting widespread testing, UF officials are looking at sampling the wastewater coming out of each dorm room in an effort to do more targeted testing.

“This typically has been used as an epidemiological tool to understand how much infection is sitting in a county or town,” Nelson said. “Here, we are going to flip this, and we’re going to try and figure out which dorms have a positive spike.”

If a “positive spike” is detected in a dorm, school and health officials would then offer targeted tests to the students living there.

FSU and UF officials on Thursday also addressed a pressing issue for sports fans across the state: Will college athletics return in the fall?

“Right now we are planning to begin seasons on time and play a full slate of contests. That’s right now. Whether this happens, obviously, will be determined by people far smarter than I and at a far higher pay grade than mine,” FSU Athletics Director David Coburn said.

Coburn said the university has started testing college football players for COVID-19. 

UF Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said his department will be “as patient as possible” on making decisions that will affect athletes and the football season. Decisions about the football season will be made with “the latest information,” likely around early or mid-August, he said.

“We are preparing as though we will play athletic events as scheduled in the 2020-21 school year. And the goal, along those lines, is to accommodate as many fans as our health leadership deems appropriate,” Stricklin said.

6 Responses to "More Details Emerge on Reopening Universities"

  1. On Sunday, we were at the Hilton hotel in Gainesville—very much needed medical procedure on Monday morning.

    We walked in with masks on only to see a crowd of 8 UF athletes and family members without masks! No social distancing! Coach hugged one UF athlete!

    This hotel has been our go-to place for several years when we have to go for medical treatment. It’s clean, convenient, has food ( used to, restaurants are closed for now) and rooms for people who need special accommodations like seats in the shower and handle bars throughout the bathroom.

    Now, it seems like everyone * except* coaches and athletes have to wear masks. How about *Athlete Privilege*? Everyone else, staff, other guests, etc. had masks.

    But not the athletes and their families.

  2. With “leaders” like these, we are a failed state/nation. Sadly, they are forcing us into a national divorce.

  3. Meanwhile FSU’s new Caucasian head football coach that took the place of the fired 1/2 way thru the season Black coach is very busy back tracking his insensitive speech after getting a slap down from a Black player.
    Nothing like sticking your finger in your bosses eye and knowing theres not a dam thing your boss can do about it.
    Marvin Wilson seized the country’s current political moment to publicly trash his boss.
    John Trasher is playing shoe shine boy ( but NOT in Black Face ) trying to clean up Coach Norvell’s wingtips from the do do slung on his rich man shoes by Marvin.
    We all wonder if the new Coach Norvell survives this poo slinging incident from his employee Marvin Wilson and is not quickly replaced by The Politically Correct Boosters with any Black Coach they can find even prior to game 1. And if he does survive Marvin’s poo slinging Norvell or ANY FSU Coach can NEVER discipline his employee Marvin Wilson for anything on or off the field.
    Interesting to keep an eye on in these “difficult times” when “we are all in this together”.
    Or are only some of us “all in this together”?

  4. Here’s an idea to address to our snowflake university leaders. Have those students who aren’t afraid to live life and elect to take the risk of being normal sign a legal waiver to hold the university harmless if they get the Chicom Virus. For those snowflake students still cowering in fear, just stay home and live in a plastic bubble. Think about it, anyone who has ever skied before has to fill out those types of waivers before the ski resort will let you ski. You accept the risk of accidentally killing yourself holding them harmless.

    Stop with the Barbara Streisand dystopian lunatic mask wearing restrictions and social distancing nonsense. There is zero evidence that asymptomatic ChiCom Virus carriers crop dust anyone causing mass sickness and death. Do what your mommy told you, if you have the sniffles stay home! Those of us who drive (including students) have a greater chance of dying whenever we get into our vehicles.

    The Chicoms have got to be ecstatic that we are moving at warp speed to their line of thinking in creating their vision of a fabulous authoritarian dystopian new future.

    1. I used to be a carpenter a long time ago in TN. Moved back to FL to find that wages were depressed because of all the incoming Yankee competition so gave it up. Now days, carpenter’s wages are barely enough to live on because of all the illegal Mexican competition.

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