Over the last twelve months, cities all across the nation have utilized different approaches and plans dedicated to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. In Florida, what were once peak numbers for cases and hospitalizations have steadily decreased over the two months. The downward trends are also reflected in the Leon County numbers. The plans and policies in Tallahassee have begun to reflect this decrease, as a return to normalcy begins.
In response to the declining COVID-19 numbers, the Leon County School Board is planning on utilizing an in-person format after this school year. While students and parents have had both digital and in-person options throughout the school year, Superintendent Rocky Hanna revealed at last week’s school board meeting that the school district will “not be operating school-based digital academies next fall,” meaning that a majority of students will return to brick-and-mortar schools. Students will, however, still have the option to enroll in Leon County Virtual School, and the school district plans on surveying parents on this service in the coming weeks.
Florida State University also seems to be starting a slow return to normalcy. In a statement released on Feb. 25, FSU President John Thrasher revealed that Spring 2021 graduates will be having an in-person graduation. The commencements, which typically take place over the course of a single weekend, will be held over the two weekends of Apr. 17 and Apr. 23 with 11 small-scale ceremonies to be held in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. In the statement, Thrasher commended students who “have worked through some tremendous challenges in order to graduate.”
While graduates are permitted four guests, safety protocols including social distancing and mask-wearing will be put in place. Additionally, students who graduated during the 2020 semesters will be given the opportunity to walk in-person during the summer.
Also, President Thrasher announced that FSU is planning for in-person classes to begin during the upcoming summer.
In an email sent Feb. 25, Thrasher stated, “We look forward to more students on campus this summer, and we will have a robust offering of in-person classes as well as hybrid, flex, and online classes…..This fall, we anticipate classes that were designed for in-person delivery will resume the face-to-face format, and we expect faculty and staff to return to campus.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic winds down, the policies and procedures that were put in place as a response to the crisis are slowly reverting to their original forms as people and organizations prepare for post-pandemic life.