• Fabian Valentin

It Passed! Now What?

A Review of the Fall 2020 Plan

According to the Florida State University Fall 2020 Plan, the university will be implementing several social distancing protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This guide will answer some questions you may have about classes, social distancing and other relevant aspects concerning student life in a pandemic. Please note that changes to the university’s Fall 2020 Plan or local ordinances may occur after this report is published. Masks Do I have to wear a mask? Can I get in trouble for not complying to the mask policy? FSU will maintain a mandatory mask policy when indoors. The policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, and visitors (p. 5-6). Students who do not comply with this mandate may result in consequences imposed by academic review boards and student conduct boards. FSU has not elaborated on this process or possible penalties. Noncompliant faculty and staff may receive corrective and disciplinary action. FSU will distribute disposable masks on an ad-hoc basis to all members of the university when individuals enter buildings and classrooms, but encourages students to use their own mask (p. 6). It is important to note that as of July 1, Leon County enforces a mandatory mask policy for anyone in public. Violators can be fined up to $250 and be required to appear in court. More information on the Leon County mask requirement can be found here: Tallahassee Democrat: What Leon County's face mask mandate means for you. Testing Can I get tested? There is currently a drive-thru testing site for employees. The Fall 2020 Plan does not mention any drive-thru testing site for students. The university encourages, but does not require, students to independently receive testing before returning to campus through private lab tests with their physicians or other recognized methods. According to Student Body President Levin, testing would be available for students. The university’s approved reopening plan fails to mention student testing facilities, but students may obtain tests at the Health and Wellness Center.


Contact Tracing

What is contact tracing?

According to the Centers of Disease Control, “contact tracing involves identifying people who have an infectious disease (cases) and people who they came in contact with (contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home voluntarily” (CDC: COVID-19 Contact Tracing). FSU will employ contact tracing measures to identify and notify individuals that may have been exposed to COVID-19. The university will track cases to mitigate the outbreak of “hotspots” on campus (p.15). “Hot spots” may prompt suspension of activities for a specific organization or area of campus. Peaks in positive rates for COVID-19 will precipitate varied responses by the university. Clusters confined to a residence hall or student group will result in more minimal changes. Large-scale peaks will result in campus-wide changes.


Housing and Quarantine

When and where do I quarantine?

Students who test positive or become exposed to individuals with COVID-19 will be required to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days and obtain a negative test result. On-campus residents will be required to isolate in Rogers Hall. Students who live in off-campus housing are encouraged to stay in their apartments for isolation. The University’s plan fails to address quarantine solutions for the homeless student population.

Transportation

Are there any changes to buses?

The University’s Fall 2020 Plan makes no mention of anticipated changes to bus routes or bus capacities. However, StarMetro has altered routes across Tallahassee and limited bus capacity to 15 passengers. More information on public services including transportation can be found on the City of Tallahassee’s website: TalGov: Public Safety.

Facilities

Will the Leach be open? What about libraries and dining locations?

In the incoming weeks, Torchlight will develop a dashboard to track the opening status of the university’s most popular restaurants, gyms and student-life facilities. Check out our website for further updates.

Facilities may be open and closed at any time as the spread of the virus varies throughout the semester. The university prioritizes the minimization of spread. Expect limited occupancy for buildings like the Leach Recreation Center. Exercise equipment will be spaced out at approximately six feet apart to maintain social distancing. There will also be no-contact check-in. FSU Campus Rec will continue virtual recreational opportunities (p. 10). There is no mention of any university libraries in the Fall 2020 Plan. Presumably, these facilities will be open with limited occupancies and mandated social distancing.

Dining locations will require social distancing for all guests seated at tables and waiting in line. All guests must wear masks unless they are eating (p. 11).

There is no mention of the Askew Student Life Center in the Fall 2020 Plan. The university may open this facility but require events to be socially distanced with limited attendance sizes.

Student Organizations

What happens to campus activities and club meetings?

The Fall 2020 Plan encourages virtual meetings for almost all organizations and events.

Fraternities and sororities should also expect mandated policies on events. The university has not commented on the size of gatherings. More information on Panhellenic activities is available on the Fraternity and Sorority Life Fall 2020 Plan site.

Student organizations may plan in-person events, but are encouraged to be outside where proper social distancing can occur. Student organizations may only serve single servings and prepackaged food products. The Fall 2020 Plan does not mention if student organizations will be permitted to book classrooms to hold events or meetings.

Classes

What happens to class attendance policies?

The university’s Fall 2020 Plan includes several provisions that mandate isolation for both students and faculty if they test positive, feel ill, or identified through contact tracing. FSU does not mention if departments will encourage professors to change their attendance policies because of the plan’s provisions, but a reasonable assumption contends that attendance policies will.

Are there changes to course instruction?

Classes will be prepared to be taught both remotely and face-to-face. FSU has spent funds to prepare faculty and instructional staff on how to improve remote education. Remote classes will experience a significant improvement as compared to the transition during Spring 2020. The university is prioritizing classroom space for labs and experiential courses. FSU plans to facilitate as many in-person classes as possible: “We will include as many face-to-face classes as possible, as we understand the value of those teaching and learning experiences for students and faculty alike” (p. 19). However, only 25% to a maximum capacity of 50% of classroom space will be utilized to maintain social distancing (e.g. students wearing masks and seated six feet apart) at all times (p. 19). The university is employing “new technologies in F2F [face-to-face] classrooms” to maintain social distancing, but the Fall 2020 Plan does not specify this impact to students (p. 19). Course descriptions will be finalized by July 16 to determine which courses will retain face-to-face instruction. Following Thanksgiving Break, face-to-face classes will meet remotely. This attempts to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 as students return home across the state, country and globe for the holiday.

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