Campus Life | November 12th, 2020

Students And Faculty Brace For In-Person Classes in January

By: Sandler Fleurima
Students And Faculty Brace For In-Person Classes in January

While experiencing one of the most unforeseen pandemics in U.S. history, students and faculty had to undergo an abrupt pause on face-to-face learning and activities. With the fall semester slowly coming to an end, a vaccine has not been announced yet. This begs the question if there will be any hope for a safe return in the spring for Florida A&M University (FAMU) students.

Shaunyce Pitman, a junior biology student at FAMU, believes students and teachers returning to campus in the spring semester is a misguided decision particularly as the flu season nears.

“I don’t feel safe returning to campus, especially during flu season,” Pittman said. “A vaccine has not been put out yet and people may confuse the coronavirus with influenza.”

Pittman also mentioned her fear of the difficulties that may occur during the transitioning phase.

“My biggest fear when returning to campus is difficulties transitioning from remote classes to face-to-face learning,” Pittman said. “Being that learning has been virtual for months. It’s a strong possibility that many students may have a hard time adapting to face-to-face learning.”

Rica Calhoun, who serves as the university’s Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer, shed some light on FAMU’s reopening plan. Calhoun says the safety committee is assuring the wellness of the campus with intense protocols.

“Facilities were enhanced to meet the demands of mentation of the virus,” Calhoun said. “We went through every facility and classrooms that are being used for the spring and adjusted capacity based on that.”

With the coronavirus being airborne, the committee is working diligently to ensure that the buildings are fogged. They also implemented UV lighting system enhancements, which will be completed by the end of November, to keep the air clean from the virus.

“In the air system, we have some UV lighting systems that will filter out the degree of a virus,” Calhoun said.

When preparing a schoolwide cleaning during a pandemic, many challenges appeared during the process. Calhoun explained how there was a delay in the arrival of supply and demand for light bulbs and other essential items.

“Our main campus buildings have received it based on supply and demands for the light bulbs, and there was a delay in that,” Calhoun said. “That’s one of the many challenges that we dealt with leading up to the upcoming semester.”

FAMU will be providing students and staff with COVID-19 training which is mandatory upon coming to campus.

Jalen Sanders, a FAMU student studying in Psychology, believes that college students’ disregard of the virus places everyone’s safety at grave risk.

“Sadly, people do not take this virus seriously as if it is not real,” Sanders said. “ I do believe that people, especially college students, should take more precautions because this virus can be deadly.”

Back in August, Sanders was diagnosed with COVID-19. He expressed how contracting the disease did not affect him as a student but more so as an individual.

“Having to quarantine was a huge inconvenience in my life during that time,” Sanders said. “Not only did this situation affect me financially but emotionally as well.”

Studies have shown that after colleges reopened, it was most likely for the numbers from the virus to increase dramatically.

According to Insider Higher Ed, “between 1,000 and 5,000 additional cases per day across the country are likely attributable to colleges reopening for face-to-face instruction.”

These sobering statistics further state that counties that have at least one college open during this pandemic can end up being the main cause for the rise in new cases from the virus within the area.

Provost Vice President Maurice Eddington says the Department of Academic Affairs is ensuring that classrooms and environments are being set up based on CDC guidelines. They are also giving most students the option to take classes remotely.

“As we move into the spring semester, we are trying to ensure that we have a classroom environment that is set up in alignment with CDC safety guidelines and protocols for classes being offered face-to-face,” Eddington said.

The Department of Academic Affairs has been working closely with Calhoun’s team and other campus units to plan for the current academic year and operating under the current conditions of the pandemic.

With concerns raised by students, the university faculty is preparing the campus to ensure that everyone remains protected. Emails will be sent out to inform everyone on what to expect in the near future here at FAMU.