Two major South Florida colleges — the University of Miami (UM) and Florida International University (FIU) — have set up plans that would allow students to return to campus for in-person teaching this fall.
The moves come as worrying signs continue to emerge about the state of the outbreak, though university officials say they will be flexible.
UM President Julio Frenk says the university will consider the pandemic’s status prior to opening up its campus.
Should the university reopen, students will be made to practice social distancing. Classrooms have been reorganized to allow for six feet of distance in between students. Those on campus will also be expected to wear masks.
A select number of classes will continue to be offered online — a reality the university was forced to adopt for all courses when things shut down in March. Some classes in the fall would also adopt the hybrid model, which allows some students in a class to attend in person and allows others to simply view the course online.
FIU officials also say its current proposal may change should the outbreak worsen. For the time being, students and staff must answer a series of questions prior to returning to campus. Those with symptoms will also be tested.
FIU’s three-part plan will slowly phase individuals back onto campus. Like UM, social distancing and masks will be required.
To the north, Broward County officials said earlier this week that its K-12 schools will also look to return to in-campus learning in the fall.
Florida is showing a sign the virus is reemerging, though to what extent remains unclear. A rise in cases was expected given the state’s efforts to reopen. Officials are hoping, however, that increase does not rise high enough to threaten the state’s hospital system.
From June 2-8, the state’s overall positivity rate — the portion of tests which come back positive — sat between 2.5% and 4.5%.
Over the next week, that number reached at least 5.38% on five out of those seven days.
Whether that is a one-time blip or a sign of a troubling trend remains to be seen.
South Florida has been the hotspot for the outbreak since the beginning. Palm Beach County officials have said recent data could cause officials to pull back on the county’s reopening. Miami and Miami Beach have also paused reopening plans due to concerns.