Some fall classes to remain virtual at universities across the state

University leaders across Florida discuss what classes will look like in the Fall. (MGN)
University leaders across Florida discuss what classes will look like in the Fall. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: May. 19, 2020 at 11:31 PM CDT
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Florida’s 12 universities are in the planning stage for returning to at least some on-campus or face-to-face learning this fall, but space challenges and health concerns will make the 2020 college year unlike any before.

Sarah Kissane’s freshman year at Florida State was cut short by the coronavirus.

“I’m very excited to go back because these are pretty formative years for me. So I’m very excited to go back and experience things we may have missed,” said Kissane.

All 12 presidents have been working on reopening campuses for weeks.

“We’re on at least phone calls twice, three times a week, to talk about best practices,” said FSU President John Thrasher.

Thrasher told us every decision creates more questions.

“I’ve heard from a lot of our faculty members who have some underlying health issues, who are in that critical age group. We don’t want to put anybody in harms way,” said Thrasher.

At FSU, the plan is to shift as many face to face classes to distance learning as possible.

A memo from administrators to deans and faculty warned on-campus space is so limited, FSU can only accommodate one-in-four students with proper social distancing.

“Is to plan for both - virtual, semi virtual if that's going to be a thing, and in-person,” said FSU Student Body President Jonathan Joseph Levine.

And despite her enthusiasm, space is a concern for Sarah.

“It is kind of wary, like thinking about going back and being in a big classroom situation, because some of the classes I was in last semester were two, three hundred people,” said Kissane.

But more than anything, the soon-to-be sophomore wants clear direction.

“And be able to directly and affirmatively say this is what we are doing,” said Kissane.

Each university has until June 23 to submit its plans for returning to classrooms.

A final decision on how campuses will reopen is expected by mid-July.