NewsLocal News


Colleges, universities in Tallahassee begin planning for fall semester

Posted at 6:37 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 18:37:01-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — While college students are looking ahead to summer, those colleges and universities are working out how to safely bring students back into the classroom for the fall semester.

Florida's State University System says they are preparing to present campus reopening plans to the Board of Governor's ahead of the fall semester. But just because classrooms will open doesn't mean it will look and feel like school before COVID-19 shut doors.

Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh stresses it won't feel the same.

"We will not -- I don't believe anyone will -- return to as we were before this began," said Murdaugh.

Task Forces are now looking at what the return will look like. At TCC, that means a hybrid approach to learning.

"It is our plan to re-open with some face to face instruction," Murdaugh said. "But all instruction will be real-time face to face whether it's online or in person."

TCC's task force is still narrowing proposed changes to the semester.

"What will protocols look like for testing, what will our procedures look like with regard to monitoring, what will we do with regard to PPE and keeping our staff and faculty safe as well as students," said Murdaugh. "It starts with that, it looks like physical infrastructure. What will we need to do to alter our classrooms to make our classrooms compliant with social distancing guidelines."

These are all decisions that rely heavily on student input.

"It's critical to not only the realities of the students but also the fears.," said Murdaugh. "And so we've done several surveys of students. Much to our surprise, the students have reacted very favorably to summer live."

TCC's Summer School programs will be the first taste of real-time virtual learning, preparing for the shift ahead.

Similarly at Florida State University, lessons learned from spring semester will be applied in the fall.

"When this pandemic hit all of our faculty, staff, and students really stepped up in amazing ways to shift the university to largely remote delivery," said Joe O'Shea, the assistant provost at FSU. "That dedication to educational excellence and continuity hasn't diminished at all. That will continue in the fall regardless if some or many of the classes are online.

With just a couple months to plan, college and university presidents continue to wrap their heads around the future.

"There are no best practices for a pandemic, so we're looking at promising practices," Murdaugh said.

TCC's task force will finalize recommendations next week. Florida State's College and University System will also unveil guidelines at the board of governor's meeting next week.