central florida college student in covid-19 mask

Here on our Brooks Law Group blog, we’ve been trying to keep our readers up to date on local COVID-19 news. Most of our posts on education have been about local elementary, middle, and high schools’ reopening plans. But what about our local colleges and universities? We’ve compiled this list of information on local college COVID-19 reopening plans to keep you informed of their plans for this year.

No one may want a return to normalcy more than college students. After dreaming about college, saving up, and working hard to get there, many feel their dream is slipping away. Virtual classes and canceled activities aren’t exactly what they had in mind when choosing a school. Schools want to offer students a great experience, but they also want to keep them and their staff members safe. Let’s take a look at five Tampa and Lakeland area schools and their reopening plans.

Florida Polytechnic University

Florida Poly, located in Lakeland, began classes yesterday, August 20. They offer mostly STEM-related programs that would be hard to teach virtually. There will be social distancing in reduced-population classrooms, and in-person lessons will also be available online. Labs will still occur in person, but with online accommodations available. The school will also offer long-term technology rental. This semester will end November 24, and final exams will be given remotely.

Residence halls will not have reduced capacity, but social distancing will still be required. They will also have designated quarantine spaces for students to isolate if infected with COVID-19. Florida Poly is also implementing a screening and testing protocol for students and staff.

Florida Southern College

Lakeland-based FSC will be limiting the number of students allowed to live in on-campus housing. These will include new students, honors students, student leaders, and students will special major requirements (e.g. nursing majors). The President of FSC stated this was to reduce the number of people sharing rooms, increasing single-occupancy rooms and creating quarantine rooms. Commuting students will still be able to attend in-person classes.

There will be a testing center set up on campus. All students living on campus or attending classes have to be tested. Virtual learning will be offered to those students not living on campus or commuting for class. As with Florida Poly, classes and exams will become remote following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Polk State University

This week, Polk State entered Phase II of its reopening plan. The school is still fully functional, with administrators returning to campus with a few staff members. Most operations are still being handled remotely, likely not returning until next year.

Most of Polk State’s classes will be online this semester. Some labs and hands-on learning will occur face-to-face. Students will be able to visit campus for a limited number of services, like the advising and financial aid offices. Campus visitors and staff will not be tested or screened, but they will be required to wear masks and social distance.

Southeastern University

SEU in Lakeland created a COVID-19 Recovery Task Force to control how the school responds to COVID-19. This team has decided to implement contact tracing for students, and students living on campus must be tested. All staff and students must wear masks on campus. Campus visitors must be screened before being allowed on campus.

Fall classes will be hybrid, meaning some lessons will be online and some will be in-person. Classroom occupancy is now at only 50%. Teachers will have to keep a seating chart to track occupancy and contact trace. Residence halls will still be open to students, but visitation will be limited. Athletics will continue, with some teams already on campus for practices.

University of South Florida

Tampa’s USF will be requiring students, staff, and faculty members to submit an online Daily Symptom Check. This will help staff track visitor health and keep infected visitors off campus. Masks are required on campus, along with social distancing. Random COVID-19 testing will take place regularly throughout the semester. Hand sanitizer vending machines will allow students to swipe their USF ID card and receive free sanitizer.

Classes that typically have over 100 students will be fully online, while smaller classes are likely to move online as well. Smaller classes and labs will still be on campus with distancing guidelines in place. Some classrooms will have cameras and microphones so that teachers can instruct in person and virtually at the same time. USF has reconfigured residence halls and dining areas to allow for social distancing and isolation rooms.

Although it may not be the school year college students wanted, it does seem like these local college COVID-19 reopening plans will keep them safe. It’s hard to guarantee that everyone will stay healthy, but by adhering to the guidelines in place, the risk can be mitigated.

If you’re going back to school this semester, we wish you the best of luck! If you need us this year, or at any time, contact us as soon as possible. We would love to help you get the help you need. Call us today at 1-800-LAW-3030 to set up your free video consultation.

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.