TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida public universities will resume personal classes in the fall, but only after introducing strict restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, under the terms of reopening plans approved Tuesday by the State University System Board of Governors.
What you need to know
- Students, faculty required to wear masks
- The occupancy rate in the classroom is reduced by more than half
- Classes go online after Thanksgiving break
- University leaders can cancel personal lessons if the number of coronavirus cases increases
Each of the system’s 12 campuses submitted an individual plan to the board, most of which shared some key components. Students and teachers should wear masks, classroom occupancy will be reduced by more than half, and classes will go online after the Thanksgiving break.
“I want to create an atmosphere where our students come back and understand that in order to stay in the position we are in, we get face-to-face lessons, kids are back on campus, understand that they have an individual responsibility have, “said John Thrasher, President of the State of Florida.
Although the FSU’s masking mandate will be maintained under threat of suspension and even removal, Thrasher told the Board of Directors that he expects students to adhere to this immediately.
“It’s more of a self-checking thing,” he said. “I certainly won’t have a mask police.”
But university leaders reserve the right to cancel in-person classes if the number of coronavirus cases indicates that campuses are at increased risk of outbreaks.
On Monday, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced it was withdrawing the liquor license from The Knight’s Pub, a bar near the University of Central Florida, where 13 employees tested positive for the virus. Contact tracking subsequently identified 28 customers who had contracted the virus, underscoring the rapid spread in tightly packed confined spaces.
The incident seemed to be in the minds of board members at Tuesday’s meeting.
“All of our universities should advise their students to indulge themselves when they are not on campus, as we expect them to be when they are on campus,” said Darlene Jordan.
Under the reopening plans, universities will also designate facilities to be used as departments for the isolation of patients with coronavirus. Planning campus-wide outbreaks should be a central mission for administrators this summer, said board member Eric Silagy.
“I’d like to encourage you to walk a little dry, if you like, what happens when you have an outbreak on campus,” Silagy told Thrasher.