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Florida universities to lay out plans for reopening campuses

Board of Governors for state university system to hear plans from 12 universities Tuesday in Orlando

Preparing to present plans Tuesday to the university system’s Board of Governors, leaders of state universities have finalized details of how they will reopen campuses for the fall semester.

Representatives of each of the 12 universities are slated to go before the Board of Governors to present plans at UCF’s campus in Orlando. It comes after campuses were shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plans deal with a wide range of issues designed to prevent the spread of the virus, with classes offered in person, online, or a combination of both.

All 12 universities in Florida’s state system have different environments, exclusive to their own identity.

But all will all have to comply with specific health and safety guidelines for social distancing, cleaning standards and collaboration with local municipalities.

Right now, the blueprint for the university system schools does not require masks or hand-sanitizer.

Instead, it directs each college to address those tools and strategies.

Testing must be considered by each university.

A place to isolate positive cases will need to be identified and a threshold of the number of positive cases needs to be known in order to tighten restrictions or potential shutdowns.

Classroom sizes and densities also need to be in compliance with CDC, state and local guidelines.

Alternatives for students and faculty members unable to participate in traditional classroom format also must be provided.

Florida State University trustees, for example, approved a plan Thursday that calls for following social-distancing guidelines and requiring face masks. Classroom capacities will be limited to 25 to 50 percent of students, faculty and assistants at a time, and the university will use an 80-bed residence hall and other smaller facilities to quarantine students who test positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to a summary released by the university.

FSU’s fall semester will start Aug. 24 and end Dec. 11, but students will not have in-person classes after Thanksgiving break to try to limit the spread of the disease.

“We’re confident that if each individual does their part and complies with these new guidelines, it will create a safer and healthier campus environment,” FSU President John Thrasher said in a prepared statement. “At the same time, we all must be flexible and respond accordingly if we discover that circumstances are changing.”

At the University of North Florida, students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not an option.

Final exams will be conducted online.

Leaders at the University of Central Florida will unveil an online dashboard that will provide updates on how many people on campus are COVID-19 positive.

As of right now, the University of Florida plans to fully reopen all of its campuses for the fall 2020 semester, including UF Alachua.

Universities have been directed to be flexible with their plans as the situation is fluid.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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