Florida Universities Set to Return to Pre-COVID Norms in Fall


During the 2021 fall semester, Florida’s 12 public universities are set to return to normal after a full school year of COVID-19 disruptions.

“An early evening news release signed by Syd Kitson, chairman of the university system’s Board of Governors, and Marshall Criser, chancellor of the system, said the 12 public universities ‘expect to increase classroom occupancy to pre-COVID capacity by the 2021-22 academic year and return to pre-COVID operations. Further, we anticipate returning to full in-person participation in athletic and social activities on our campuses, including fan participation in stadiums and arenas,'” The News Service of Florida reported.

Star News Education Foundation Journalism ProjectCampuses across the state shut down in March 2020 when the first major COVID-19 wave hit. They have operated in limited capacities during the 2020-2021 school year, taking increased measures like online learning, shutting down or restricting extra-curricular activities, and implementing significant COVID-19 testing and tracing for student-athletes.

In one example, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team was forced to cancel several games after the team experienced an outbreak of the virus.

But now that a vaccine is readily available to all adults, the universities are looking towards the future.

“A full return in the fall means that capacity restrictions will be lifted and most courses will be on campus,” University of Central Florida provost Michael D. Johnson said in a statement. “However, we expect that our other health measures — such as wearing masks, extra hand washing and increased cleaning — will continue. We will, of course, also offer a robust online learning program, as we did before COVID-19. And although most employees will return to campus, we expect, based on what we have learned from our experience during the pandemic, that some employees may be allowed to continue to work remotely part- or full-time. We may also need to continue to be cautious with employees with identified high-risk health concerns, depending on the pandemic’s progression.”

The Florida legislature passed a bill, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last week, banning public institutions from requiring vaccine passports, or any kind of proof of vaccination.

That means that Florida’s public universities will not be allowed to force students to get vaccinated before returning to campus.

Private universities still have that option, though.

Nova Southeastern University in Broward County appears on a list of colleges that will force students to receive the vaccine in order to return to school.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].











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