Published On: Sun, Aug 16th, 2020

College Students Preparing for an Atypical Fall Semester

In early March, students went on spring break believing that they would return. Soon after, that break was extended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Florida Atlantic University, for example, expected in person classes to resume by March 30. During that time, cases began to rise and as a result, schools and other places of business closed. 

Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 20-91 on April 1 which put a stay-at-home order into effect on April 1. Since then, the state of Florida has experienced fluctuating numbers, but as of recently there have been steadily increasing COVID-19 case numbers.

Photo Courtesy of eCampus News

According to The School District of Palm Beach County, PBC “will start the 2020-2021 school year with distance learning on Monday, August 31. On July 16, 2020, the School Board approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to keep students in a remote learning environment until health conditions improve in Palm Beach County.”

Unlike K-12 schools, FAU will begin their fall semester on August 22. The University’s reopening plan includes having approximately 4,000 students live on-campus and around  20 percent of classes conducted in-person.

In an interview, Miranda Freire, Junior at FAU said  “I feel like there’s pros and cons to having online classes. The main pro is that online classes are less expensive for that semester. The con is not being able to raise your hand in class or go up to the teacher after class to answer any questions you may have.”

“Much of the instruction will be fully remote, including any classes with more than 50 students and all graduate-level coursework, unless specially approved. Most on-campus instruction will also rely on classrooms that are equipped to stream or record content for students who cannot attend class meetings in person,” according to the FAU News Desk. 

For residential students, FAU continues to honor Fall 2020 housing contracts, however there are new steps to ensure health and safety while living on-campus. “The  University is contracting with local hotels for well students to provide on-campus spaces for isolation if needed. Only well students will be placed in area hotels,” according to their reopening plan. “Specific protocols have been developed should a student residing in the residence facilities that are symptomatic, presumptive positive, and COVID-19 positive.”

Additionally, FAU’s Reopening plan mentions that following the Thanksgiving break FAU will transition to 100% remote instruction. 

In an interview, Joshua D. Glanzer, Associate VP of Media Relations and Public Affairs at FAU stated, “This was a discussion at the state university system level. With so many students returning home or traveling for the thanksgiving break, we felt it was the safest to not bring the bulk of those students back to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

However, Glanzer noted that although classes will be 100% remote after the Thanksgiving break, residential students may remain on campus. 

“Resident halls and associated services will remain open to service those who reside with us. We have a plan in place now to manage positive cases on campus.  That plan is for the entire semester and not simply when resident students return after thanksgiving.  That plan includes procedures for isolating and quarantining students, covid-19 testing and contact tracing, isolation/quarantine rooms in housing, and providing health and wellness care to sick students,” said Glanzer. 

FAU dicusess physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and face coverings as just a few protective measures for staff and students to follow.

 “Face coverings should be worn during all public activities and when around others. Face coverings are required when in close proximity to others and wherever physical distancing cannot be maintained,” the reopening plan mentions. 

 “This past summer term was really easy and I only had three classes. I am hopeful the fall semester is as easy even though now I have five classes. I feel as though I learn better in person because I feel more engaged,” Friere said.

About the Author

- I am currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University majoring in multimedia studies with a journalism concentraion. I am a Newsroom Writer for the Boca Raton Tribune with a passion for investigative journalism work and sharing stories within my community.

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