College life will be different in the fall


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Florida college students hoping for a return to normal in the fall will have to wait and see.

The state’s 12 public universities recently announced plans to reopen, after being forced to close abruptly in March due to COVID-19, and private schools across the state are also planning to reopen, though life on campus may seem radically different from that of students. used to.

Remote lessons and large-scale virus testing will likely be part of everyday life for many students.

“We are reimagining our spaces, providing state-of-the-art care and making testing widely available when we return to campus,” said University of Miami President Julio Frenk. “We just have to coexist with the virus and adapt. At this point, it would take something really, really dramatic, which I don’t envision, for us not to open in the fall.

But even as school officials plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, questions remain about the feasibility of social distancing efforts among students used to sporting events, parties and college life.

State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser was expected to present guidelines for reopening campuses in the fall at the University System’s Board of Governors meeting in late May.

The state allows each public university to develop plans that take into account the severity of the pandemic in their region. Representatives will present their plan to the Board of Governors on June 23.


Keizer University, a private, nonprofit university with nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, is preparing for students to return to its campuses, including its 100-acre flagship campus in West Palm Beach, August 31.

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“We have been working on this for seven weeks with a reopening task force that includes staff, faculty and administration to ensure we have the correct protocols and procedures in place,” said Arthur Keizer, Chancellor and CEO.

This fall, classes are expected to be delivered in three ways: fully on-campus, a hybrid of online and on-campus classes, or fully online. For in-person classes, students will be divided into groups that will attend on alternate days. Classrooms will be set up for social distancing.

Summer courses launched in May and June are online only.

The university will incorporate the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidelines for colleges and universities released May 20 as it prepares for its return to normal.

Students will spend the first week in orientation to prepare for the new requirements, then begin classes after Labor Day, Keizer said. Students, staff and faculty will be required to wear masks. Plexiglas barriers will be installed, and sanitation will be reinforced.

A new four-story, more than $10 million residence hall is set to open for the fall semester on the West Palm Beach campus, its only U.S. campus with dormitories. It was designed to increase dormitory capacity to 220 beds. However, because CDC guidelines call for one student per dorm, the university will only add 160 beds, for a total of 600. One living space in each two-bedroom suite will be used to house one student.

The number of students permitted to enter the dining hall at one time will be limited. Keizer is also looking to triple the seating capacity of its stands on the football field.

Keiser, a pioneer in online higher education, has been offering online courses since 1998, and even in normal times, a third of its students are enrolled in online-only courses.

Keizer said the university’s online model succeeds because of small class sizes and interaction between faculty and students. A key difference between in-person classes and virtual classes?

“You can’t sit in the back and hide,” Keizer said.


Palm Beach Atlantic University President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn plans to open the campus this fall. Schwinn, a physician and scientist, intends to implement a multi-pronged approach to keep Palm Beach Atlantic students and employees safe. The package includes:

– Train students, faculty and staff on hygiene, health and wellness and campus expectations.

– Follow-up of community members if they become symptomatic.

– Testing students and employees.

– Separate on-campus dormitory for isolation if a student becomes ill.

– Trace anyone who tests positive to alert others they have been in contact with.

– Communication with city health officials, campus and parents throughout.


Jamie D’Aria, senior public relations officer for the Boca Raton-based school, said the university plans to return to campus for the fall semester, but did not reveal any specific plans.

“We will continue to work within local government and health guidelines, and every phase of our return to campus will be implemented with the health and safety of our Lynn community in mind,” D’ wrote. Aria.

“While we are optimistic that the campus will be open and running, we are also working on several scenarios to ensure a positive experience.”

Distance learning

As campuses emptied in March, professors moved their classes online for the rest of the semester. University leaders are preparing for the possibility that remote learning will continue in the fall.

Florida State University Provost Sally E. McRorie told faculty members in an email May 4 that the majority of classes will continue to be taught remotely in the fall.

“We plan to only offer face-to-face classes that cannot be taken through other pedagogies,” McRorie said in an email obtained by the News Service of Florida.

For some courses, the move to distance learning is relatively seamless, but courses that depend on hands-on work and group discussions are difficult to replicate in an online format.

Students at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality normally run a tapas restaurant as part of their schooling, where they learn everything from creating menus to managing staff and finance.

Pat Moreo, a professor and dean of the college, hopes “Bulls Bistro” will resume operations in the fall, but his faculty is preparing online simulations in case the restaurant cannot open.

“Will it be the same in a simulation? I guess not,” Moreo said. “But we will compensate for this with other exercises.”

Student life

While university leaders may be able to enforce social distancing measures in the classroom, it’s a much more difficult task when it comes to student social life.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Jacob Wentz, who just graduated from New College of Florida in Sarasota. “Especially for high schoolers who are now going to be freshmen… Staying six feet apart isn’t exactly conducive to building relationships.”

The state has been spared some of the most dire predictions, perhaps making it even harder for college officials to enforce rules that would have seemed ridiculously unlikely before the pandemic.

“People get nervous and want to see people and get back to some kind of normalcy,” Wentz said. “So some people might not follow (social distancing rules), especially college kids.”

Gannett reporters Emily Bloch, Pam McCabe, Thomas D’Angelo and Susan Salisbury contributed to this report.

What to expect when colleges and universities reopen

Details are still in the works on how colleges and universities will adapt to COVID-19 in the fall, but a few major themes have emerged as students and families make their plans for the 2020 academic year. -21.

The state’s 12 public universities will unveil their reopening plans at the university system’s board of governors meeting on June 23. Each school’s plans will vary depending on their region, student body, and campus layout.

Public and private college students should expect social distancing guidelines.

Schools are preparing for expanded online offerings. In some cases, this will include courses that are generally practical.


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