Opinion: Safety should be the top priority before reopening

“FAU has announced that they will be returning to campus in the fall in a hybrid format, but is it feasible?” asks Contributing Writer Natalia Ribeiro.


Graphic by Aitana Gonzalez.

Natalia Ribeiro, Contributing Writer

FAU released an official statement via email about reopening for the fall semester in the late afternoon hours on June 23. Many classes have switched to a full online instructional method while the remaining classes remain either face-to-face or a mixture of both. 


On June 13,10 days before the Board of Governors meeting, a list was released with how Florida’s 12 universities were planning to reopen. Many of the measures included in the reopening involved face coverings, testing of students and staff, and a mix of face-to-face and online classes. 


While FAU is reopening campus this fall, it risks a rise in coronavirus cases if the university does not take strict actions and does not listen to their students.


Yes, the ability to use the resources FAU has is much needed, but is it feasible to return to campus?


As a student who commutes to campus via Tri-Rail and the FAU bus route, I don’t feel safe going back to campus in the fall. I still live at home and the thought of going to campus and the possibility of bringing the coronavirus back home to my family worries me. Although all of my classes have transitioned to fully remote learning, I know that is not the case for other students. 


As much as the university has protocols in place, they must act on those protocols in order for them to be useful. 


The use of remote instruction for the majority of classes should be in place for the fall semester except for those classes that require physical interaction like dance, nursing, and labs. In those classes that require physical interaction, strict protocols should be in place in order to keep those students in class safe. 


In the case that a class is full, universities should open up another class of the same instructional method whether that be remote or face-to-face. If the option of opening up another class is not possible, students should be allowed to bypass the class capacity in a safe manner if the professor allows it. The university must remember to not force its students to attend a face-to-face class if they do not feel safe, as not every student is in the same situation. 


Students that do require to attend a face-to-face class should do so with a different aspect in mind. They should be prepared to be more careful as to where they place their hands. A simple touch on the nose, mouth, or eyes can transmit the coronavirus to a student that does not part-take in proper sanitization.


If masks are required, enforce the use of them to students. 


When a student is caught without a mask, make sure there are consequences in place for that student. 


If the student continues to not wear a mask around the campus, forbid them from entering the classroom, or have a fine that a student must pay before coming onto campus or classroom. 


Unless that student has a legitimate reason for not wearing a mask that is documented and signed by their doctor/physician, students must be wearing a mask.


If there is going to be testing for students and staff, make them easily accessible for the students and staff.  No matter how many campuses a university may have, testing should be accessible at all other campuses as well. 


Give priority to those who are feeling symptoms of coronavirus, have been around a person who recently tested positive, in contact with those most vulnerable, or those that are planning to leave the state or country.


In the email sent to students, FAU President John Kelly said that the university would move to 100% remote instruction after Thanksgiving break, as many other universities in Florida are planning to do as well.


For the students who want to go back to the university after Thanksgiving break, allow them the option to go back. If the student does not want to go back, allow them to leave the university campus on Thanksgiving week. 


As the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths fluctuate, universities must be careful and not hurry up to reopen. In doing so, they could potentially expose a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, undoing all the work being done today. As of July 29, Florida had reported over 451,000 cases with deaths at 6,333.


No matter how FAU decides to conduct the fall semester going forward, I’ll still be spending the semester remotely. Instead of complaining, I’m going to adapt to the new normal. Not only for the safety of myself but for the safety of my family, friends, and the people that I come into contact with.


Natalia Ribeiro is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]