Florida universities grapple with how to adjust to pandemic

Reporter: Lindsey Sablan Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Florida Gulf Coast University’s campus health guidelines. Credit: WINK News

Since the fall semester started, there have been 459 cases of COVID-19 reported at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Syd Kitson is Chairman of the Board of Governors, the 17 people who oversee the operations of Florida’s 12 state universities.

“You get put in a position in life, not sure why… but at the end of the day, it can become a challenge, but something if you embrace you can almost make more of a difference,” said Kitson.

That job is a monumental task this year, especially since the board chose to shut down the colleges last spring.

“That was a really, really tough decision,” Kitson said.

But right after that, the board got to work developing a blueprint for schools, laying out how to create a healthy environment with face masks, testing and contact tracing, and how to keep academics going.

“I wouldn’t change a thing, I think we did exactly the right thing,” Kitson said. “The director of the CDC came and met with a group from the university system last week and said that we were in the top five in the nation for performance.”

But the work’s just started.

“We’re still in the middle of this, as a matter fact it’s worse now than maybe ever,” Kitson said. “So here’s the tricky part: they’re all leaving to go home.”

Kitson says the board is meeting again on a weekly basis to make sure the spring semester goes smoothly. Prior to the holiday, FGCU offered test kits to students and staff to use before Thanksgiving and after.

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