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Florida A&M reinstates curfew after increase in COVID-19 cases

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 18:32:31-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida A&M University's cases are rising as Tallahassee bars and venues start to see more crowded events. Now, the school hopes a curfew will help keep the school from experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.

"I think our students, just like everyone else, are kind of anxious to get back to a pre-COVID time," said FAMU Dean of Students Bomani Spell.

With more events packing venues, there comes the threat of an increase of COVID-19 cases.

"I monitor everything that goes around on campus, on social media, and everything. So I'm watching and seeing that our students, along with you know many other American citizens are, wanting to have things returned back to normalcy," said Spell.

In Phase 3 of Governor Ron DeSantis' re-opening plan, there's no limitation on how a business operates. Leon County has no authority over what the university does.

In a statement, the county said the plan prevents "local governments from restricting those operations and imposing fines and penalties on individuals."

FAMU does however have authority over its students on campus, and there's now a curfew in place.

"We're seeing an increase in the number of cases on campus. So we thought it prudent to go ahead and reinstate the curfew on campus," said FAMU Student Health Director Tanya Tatum.

On-campus students are required to stay inside from midnight until 6 a.m. on weekends.

During the week, they must be in their residence halls from 10 at night until 6 in the morning.

"It does decrease the opportunities for gatherings and parties that contribute to the spread of COVID," said Tatum.

Florida A&M has about 3,000 students who attend in-person classes and 2,100 students living on campus.

FAMU reported 21 positive cases among students for the week of Jan. 25 to 29. That's a 5.1 percent positivity rate.

University officials acknowledge it's tempting for students to want to go to places with large gatherings.

The school is doing what it can to supplement that desire with socially-distanced on-campus events.

"We're having almost weekly chats with our students. Our residence hall staff is doing an excellent job and trying to give them other activities they can do. Our offices of student activities are doing virtual things to have students feel safe in their environments yet be engaged in what's going on in the Community," said Spell.

Right now, FSU does not have a curfew in place, despite having a 4.48 percent positivity rate. Eighty-two students tested positive last week.

There's no set date for FAMUs curfew to end.