JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville and Gainesville universities are in the spotlight to decide when to reopen campuses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the University of Florida says the big decision is still weeks away, Jacksonville University made the announcement Wednesday that the school is 100% committed to returning students to campus in late August.
Standing outdoors on campus, Jacksonville University President Tim Cost announced on social media the school will be open for the fall semester.
“We’ve put together a task force of incredibly talented people who are working every day. Going on more than 60 consecutive days worried about one thing: you succeeding here safely,” Cost said.
Cost said that task force will continue working on ways to make the fall semester successful with a focus on safety for students, staff and faculty.
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs participated in a Gainesville Town Hall phone call Wednesday where he said UF has not made a formal decision about reopening classrooms and campus. However, the school is preparing for what Fuchs says is inevitable.
“Students are coming back. Let’s figure out how. We know they’re coming back. They’re signing more leases, we have more acceptances,” Fuchs said. "They’re tired of their moms saying clean your room. They’re coming to Gainesville.”
One of the questions asked about reopening at UF or Santa Fe College when California has announced schools will not be back on campus in the fall, to which Fuchs offered a confession.
“It scares me, 54,000 students showing up here, and I have no control. They’re coming,” Dr. Fuchs said. "If it’s online or not. We have to put in place how to live in community, on campus, as safely as possible.”
Both university presidents acknowledge the deep financial impact from the pandemic. They emphasized that students deserve excellent education, and that some types of instruction can not be done online.