FORT MYERS, Fla. — As Covid-19 cases increase across the state, some are continuing education in the classroom.
That includes discussions in college classrooms, like Florida Gulf Coast University who have seen changes to their policies. FGCU administration is strongly encouraging the wearing of masks while indoors on campus. While it’s not enforced, it is highly recommended.
“Students are back to class at full capacity and we are ready to have an incredible school year back to normal,” says Ruth Rodrigues, Director of Emergency Management at Florida Gulf Coast University.
At FGCU, students can be seen roaming campus. It’s a picture that almost wasn’t made possible due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 fall semester is here.
“We know a whole lot more about Covid than we did last year,” said Rodrigues. She says the department went through extensive research and discussion about how coming back to campus would look for students and staff.
“People are used to things like masking, they’re used to things with testing, they’re used to things like the new tool that we have which is a vaccination. Students have been very receptive to being vaccinated on campus. Students are masking when they can.”
Students like Hope Bigler and Stephanie Moad.
“It’s definitely a different dynamic as I came here freshman year and I completely lived the pre-Covid college student life,” said Bigler, a senior studying Supply Chain Management and Business Management.
“I was excited to come back but also was a little hesitant because I’m very cautious about Covid and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to put me or my family at risk," said Moad, a senior studying Supply Chain and Hospitality.
Amid those concerns, student admission for this year has gone up. In fact, according to the university, admission for this fall semester saw 16,052 students enroll.
“We have about 68% of our classes are face-to-face right now which is a lower percentage than what we would normally have before the pandemic but it’s a lot higher than last year,” said Christopher Westley, Dean of Lutgert College of Business and Professor of Economics.
It’s a vast improvement from last year that saw a majority of classes switch to online. But as more has become known about the virus, more has been done to protect students and staff.
“Along with all of my classes going online, all events in our organization went online as well so pretty much everything was virtual," said Bigler. "It was a completely different dynamic than anyone has ever adjusted to. As they say, ‘Zoom University.’ That definitely took a huge hit not only for classes but for events and things like that happening on campus.”
While more students have turned up for class this year, plenty more precautions have been put in place. Precautions both Bigler and Moad say they will continue to follow.
“It’s like basically going to college, you can’t just rush through everything and call it a day because it’s not going to work in the end- you’re just going to detriment yourself," says Moad. "Whereas if you take it slow and take it day-by-day, then you’ll realize that 'hey, I’m getting more out of this and then I’m going to be set in the long run.'”
FGCU is continuing to provide testing for students and staff routinely on campus. They will also be offering vaccination opportunities for students throughout the fall semester. Their next vaccination event will be September 3.
You can find more information about upcoming events online right here.