Issue 4: Florida universities release pandemic policies for summer and fall semesters

University of Florida, University of South Florida and Florida State University are all planning to return to pre-pandemic operations in the upcoming semesters

Ella Wertz, News and Features Editor

As RHS heads towards graduation, many students from the senior class have decided to further their education at one of the several public universities in Florida. The class of 2025, much like their predecessors, will face the obstacle of starting college amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to ease stress regarding the pandemic and inform students on what college will look like at UF, FSU or USF, Knight Writers has collected information recapping to the pandemic policies enforced on each campus.

University of Florida 

University of Florida plans to reinstitute normal operations for both the Summer B and Fall semester. The in-person classes will return to their normal capacity. Study abroad activity will be resumed. The campus will continue to enforce mask policies; however, their social or physical distancing policies will be relaxed.

University of Florida requires masks to be work in classrooms and public areas which include but are not limited to bathrooms, lounges, lobbies and stairwells. Masks are not required in private workspaces or outdoor spaces where social distancing is achievable.

At least during the summer terms, University of Florida plans to continue their COVID-19 testing plan, where students are tested every two weeks. However, students that received the vaccine have the option to upload their CDC vaccination card to the UF Health Portal to be excused from testing.

As for eLearning in the upcoming semesters, some classes will be available online, but there are courses that will solely function on the in-person level.

Regarding campus events like sorority functions and athletic events, social and physical distancing will be relaxed in the summer and fall terms. In addition, the Southwest Recreation Center and Lake Wauburg are open with adjusted hours.

University of South Florida

According to the USF website, the university is currently in Phase II of their four-phase pandemic plan. Regarding the start of their Summer B session, University of South Florida plans to return to “full in-person participation in athletic and social activities on [their] campus.” The university is scheduled to return to full in-person, pre-pandemic class sizes at the beginning of the Summer B term.

As of now, the mask policy requires students to wear a face covering in both inside and outside facilities.

USF plans to launch a website that will hold any and all information regarding updates on campus COVID-19 procedures. The website will also detail resources and guidelines available for both faculty and students for the upcoming semesters.

In regards to questions about the pandemic, USF plans to offer town-hall style information sessions for faculty, staff and students. Students are encouraged to ask their questions and air their concerns regarding the pandemic. These town-hall style meetings are scheduled to take place towards the beginning of the fall semester.

For more information on their COVID plan,  check out USF’s new podcast “InsideUSF: The Podcast.” The podcast will feature the Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force, Dean of the USF College of Public Health, and Chief Human Resources Officer.

Florida State University

Florida State University’s president announced that starting May 1, all departments will be increasing their on-campus presence. All temporary remote work agreements for faculty and staff will expire July 31.

As for masks, students and faculty are required to wear face covering in all indoor facilities on campus. Students are prohibited from participating in in-person classes or other functions if they refuse to wear a mask.

During the summer sessions, hybrid (Flex), and in-person classes will be available. The university plans to return to pre-pandemic operations and population levels for the fall semester.

Orientation will be held virtually during the summer. However, in August, FSU will host their “Welcome FSU” orientation with more in-person events and programming. New Student Convocation will be held in-person for students attending in the fall semester.

During the Spring 2021 semester, FSU resumed both study abroad and opened recreational facilities. However, the facilities have limited hours, capacities, and continue to prioritize social distancing.  Additionally, the libraries on campus are open with limited hours.