Restarting FAMU: Reduced dorm occupancy, smaller classes, mandatory masks
Florida A&M University students should get ready for scheduled bathroom time.
FAMU's proposed plan for reopening this fall after the coronavirus upended campus life places a strong focus on health precautions. That includes changes in dorm life, classroom instruction and campus access.
New guidelines will affect the whole campus community, particularly faculty, staff and students, who also will be expected to take personal responsibility in following safe health practices.
For instance, classroom sizes at the historically black university will be limited.
Housing occupancy will be reduced 69 percent by converting double-bed rooms to singles. Freshmen will be given priority for on-campus housing, but it will be available to all students.
And residence hall advisors will even be scheduling shower times to meet social distancing guidelines.
In other moves:
– The university will supply face masks that must always be worn in classrooms and common areas of residence halls.
– Sanitizing stations have been set up throughout campus and maintenance employees will remain busy, sanitizing and disinfecting buildings on an ongoing basis.
– Classes will be offered in a combination of in-person classes, while others remain in remote mode.
FAMU also is considering the option of reverting back to remote-only instruction after the Thanksgiving break, including finals. Under that plan, a limited number of professional level finals will be held in the classroom.
Elsewhere, the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida already have indicated they will transition to remote learning following the Thanksgiving break.
Florida State University will present its plan to trustees on June 18, but it also is proposing shifting to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break.
FAMU’s plan will be vetted Thursday by the Board of Trustees during their virtual meeting. If approved, it will go to the Board of Governors no later than June 12, where FAMU and each of the State University System’s leaders will present their plans on June 23.
Each plan is a work in progress as universities continue to follow state and federal guidelines, but Gov. Ron DeSantis and state university leaders have endorsed restarting on campus operations this fall.
FAMU’s leadership and financial division employees will return to campus June 15, followed by other employees incrementally on July 1, July 15 and Aug. 1 to begin.
The return of employees and eventually students will involve intense training in COVID-19 prevention protocol, and an emphasis on testing, contact tracing, and isolating coronavirus-positive students.
“Faculty, staff and students are expected to participate in daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and temperature checks at least once prior to leaving home day,” the report says.
The university will provide hand-held thermometers and each department is responsible for conducting daily temperature checks and symptom checks for employees before they are allowed into high-density workplace areas.
Also, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to be tested when they return to campus. COVID-19 testing will be available at the Florida A&M University-Bond Community Health Center's site at Bragg Stadium.
FAMU, along with Howard and Alabama State universities, are the only three HBCUs with on-site testing sites, according to ABC News.
“Having that capacity with testing, I think that will be a key component of our strategy in how we move forward with reopening,” FAMU President Larry Robinson told the Democrat this week. Faculty, students and staff at the College of Law in Orlando, and at the Crestview, Brooksville and Quincy locations have access to testing centers there.
Students living in on-campus housing who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be moved to Palmetto North Apartments on the southern end of campus. FAMU expects to establish an Occupational Health section within its Student Health Services division that will oversee the contact tracing and monitoring process.
“A cluster of three or more positive COVID-19 cases at any university location will result in additional restrictions,” the report said. A cluster is described as cases with common times, geographic locations and exposures.
Classroom sizes have been reduced 75 percent. Lecture halls will become the equivalent of medium-sized classrooms; medium-sized rooms will become small classrooms, and so forth.
Science labs, clinical courses, classes in performing arts and music will be in person, however, as will lower-division courses in math, English, science and business. Graduate and professional level courses will be offered in a hybrid of face-to-face and online.
Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @byrondobson
This story originally published to tallahassee.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida..