Santa Fe College will continue to hold in-person classes this semester while maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 511 Santa Fe College students and 44 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, spokesperson Jay Anderson said. This total represents the college as a whole, including online students, Anderson said. Of the total, 77 students and 17 employees may have visited campus while positive, he said.
UF has reported more than 7,500 positive cases since March 18, according to UF’s Testing Dashboard. The university reports its number of cases through the dashboard; however, Santa Fe does not have a public dashboard on its COVID-19 landing page.
Unlike UF, Santa Fe will not require students to be routinely tested but they are strongly encouraged to, especially if they’re experiencing symptoms, Anderson said. Leading up to and during the Fall semester, Santa Fe College provided opportunities on campus to get tested through the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, Anderson said. The tests were administered for free, according to Santa Fe’s website.
“We’ve been very proactive since the beginning on this, about if you start to feel sick, do not come to the campus,” he said. “Do not come to any Santa Fe College property.”
All students, faculty and staff should focus on their health first and participate in self-screening, Anderson said. Santa Fe College’s faculty and staff prefer students miss a day of classes rather than accidentally spread COVID-19.
In the Fall, faculty, staff and students were required to complete COVID-19 training modules before the start of the semester, according to Santa Fe College’s website. People were not allowed to return to campus until completing the training, Anderson said.
The college is offering Spring courses in four different formats, including in-person, to give students as many options as possible, Anderson said. Everyone on campus is required to wear a mask, and the number of students per classroom has been reduced to ensure physical distancing.
The college has also transformed larger spaces on its campus, such as the Fine Arts Hall auditorium, into classrooms, Anderson said. These spaces allow the college to accommodate for larger classes while following COVID-19 guidelines.
Aside from in-person classes, Anderson said students have the option to take classes online asynchronously, as a traditional hybrid or as a virtualized hybrid. The traditional hybrid combines on-campus learning with virtual meetings, whereas the virtualized hybrid is fully online with some synchronous Zoom meetings.
“It’s really been an all hands on deck,” he said. “All the staff and the students have been absolute champs about this, considering the conditions that we’re dealing with.”
Joshua Songayab, a 19-year-old Santa Fe College nursing sophomore, said he chose to stay online this semester because of his own COVID-19 concerns, as well as online’s convenience.
Songayab believes Santa Fe has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well and has done a good job of keeping students informed about its policies, he said.
“They’ve been nothing but helpful to me,” he said.
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Juliana Ferrie is a second-year UF journalism student. She is excited to be working for The Alligator as the Santa Fe Beat reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading or listening to music.