Florida's public university system must develop a plan by month's end for letting the country's second-largest four-year college system reopen this fall, after hundreds of thousands of students were sent home in March because of the coronavirus.
The chair of the system's board of governors said Monday that university officials must present guidelines to the 17-member board at a public meeting on May 28.
The guidelines will serve as a blueprint for each campus to draft individual reopening plans, which the board of governors will consider at its June meeting.
“The task force is focusing on developing guidelines that will prioritize the health and well-being of students, faculty, staff, vendors, and visitors as our institutions continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic," Board of Governors' Chair Syd Kitson said in a statement Monday. “Our measured and thoughtful approach will be informed by science and medical professionals, and we are working hard to develop sound guidelines that enhance campus safety, as well as continue to meet the Board’s rigorous academic performance and student success goals.”
More than 420,000 students are enrolled in the 12-campus university system, which includes some of the country's largest institutions of higher education.
“Our measured and thoughtful approach will be informed by science and medical professionals, and we are working hard to develop sound guidelines that enhance campus safety, as well as continue to meet the Board’s rigorous academic performance and student success goals," said Syd Kitson, the chair of the university system’s board of governors.
In setting these guidelines, the task force has recognized that each university has a dedicated mission with unique strengths and characteristics, as well as an extraordinary environment that includes densely populated urban areas, more rural settings and students from all regions of the state, the nation, and the world.
In March, school campuses across the state — from grade schools to universities — began conducting classes remotely to limit the spread of the new coranavirus.
“As we move forward with a framework for the fall, we will be mindful that a healthy campus environment and academic rigor remain paramount," said the university system's chancellor, Marshall Criser, III.