The Florida Board of Governors unanimously approved a plan to reopen university campuses in the Fall. Board Chancellor Marshall M. Criser III presented the plan during Thursday’s virtual meeting.
The board, which is made up of seventeen members, fourteen of whom are appointed by the governor and approved by the Florida Senate, previously announced that the 12 schools part of the State University System would reopen in Fall after classes moved online in March due to COVID-19.
The State University System Task Force developed the plan to reopen universities, according to a press release. State universities were instructed to have their own individual plans ready to present at a Board of Governors meeting on June 23.
Under the plan, university students, faculty, staff, volunteers, vendors and visitors will be subject to new policies and training to promote the health and safety of their environment. Criser III did not specify what these policies would entail.
The chancellor also said that under the plan, universities will administer surveys or screening measures to identify and prioritize who should be tested before returning to campus. How, when and where the testing will take place is still being determined, he said.
Before campuses reopen, universities will establish a threshold of positive COVID-19 cases, Criser III said. If this threshold is exceeded, campuses may return to stricter social distancing measures and behavioral restrictions.
For those who do not wish to return to campus, Criser III said the board expects to have the versatility to “meet the students where they want to be met.” Criser mentioned implementing a platform to continue remote learning.
In regards to athletics, Criser III said national and regional athletic conferences are “heavily involved” in deciding how campus athletics will proceed in the Fall, and that the blueprint for reopening deals primarily with academics.
Charles Lydecker, a member of the board and CEO of an independent insurance company, said that the blueprint to reopen campuses will only be successful if students, faculty and other members of the university community adhere to it.
“I don’t think any of it works unless all members of the university system take personal responsibility,” Lydecker said during the meeting.
Criser III emphasized that the blueprint for reopening must be versatile to conform to each university’s unique environments and circumstances. UF President Kent Fuchs participated on the call but did not comment on how the plan will be executed at UF.