College students who are forced to learn remotely as part of a university’s pandemic response policy deserve full tuition refunds, Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Monday.
The Governor’s remarks come as colleges and universities grapple with the highly contagious, but seemingly less potent, omicron variant.
In many cases, colleges are providing online-only instruction and yet still charging students full tuition costs. Harvard, for example, will go remote for the three weeks of January classes. Alternatively, Stanford will provide two weeks of online-only instruction and will require students to show proof of a booster shot by month’s end.
Other colleges, meanwhile, plan to limit nonessential functions and some are charging a “COVID-19 fee” to unvaccinated students.
“It’s absolutely insane what’s going on,” DeSantis told reporters at Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale.
DeSantis — who characterized such measures as a flinch — vowed to keep school doors open in Florida.
“Our universities are going to be open… they’re going to have in-person instruction,” DeSantis said. “And I think any university that doesn’t do that should have to refund 100% of the tuition to the parents.”
DeSantis also mocked public health measures such as on-campus “shelter in place” orders. Those heavy-handed measures, he asserted, are imposed upon the young, who are more resilient to the virus.
“Some of them are even doing shelter in place over omicron,” DeSantis noted. “For what? A 20-year-old college student?”
A June poll commissioned by College Pulse Survey showed 90% of students feel they should pay less if schools move to online-only. Additionally, less than half of students surveyed believe professors transitioned to online teaching effectively.
An outspoken critic of aggressive public health measures to combat COVID-19, DeSantis told reporters Monday Florida is “locked and loaded” to deal with the latest variant.
Florida broke its single-day case record with nearly 76,000 new cases on New Year’s Eve. The nation is experiencing a similar trend, averaging more than 165,000 new cases per day on average.