Vaccine plans, COVID-19 protocols, and in-person classes explained at virtual town hall meeting

FAU staff members explain how classes will be formatted and safety procedures that have been put in place.

Photo+by+Alex+Liscio.+

Photo by Alex Liscio.

Gillian Manning, Contributing Writer

The Spring 2021 semester has arrived and it’s important for students, families, and staff to understand what FAU has planned for the year ahead.

The virtual town hall, hosted on Friday, January 8 informed the FAU community that the way classes will take place in the spring will vary depending on faculty and student decisions. Future plans for a vaccination site were also revealed.

Larry Faerman, vice president for administrative affairs and chief administrative officer, explained that FAU does currently have a supply of COVID-19 vaccinations that are currently being used to vaccinate medical personnel from the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, and Student Health Services. 

While FAU currently has COVID-19 testing sites in place on the Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses, Stacy Volnick, vice president for academic affairs explained that they hope to open vaccination sites as well. “We are working with a partner to hopefully bring a vaccination site to the university, Volnick said. 

Vaccination sites would be community-based and act within the executive orders given by Gov. DeSantis. Currently, that means health-care workers and other members of the vulnerable population would be prioritized. FAU plans to make an announcement with more details next week.

Faerman said, “What we do in student health long-term will depend on what it is we do with this community partner. But our student health services, as they have from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, stands prepared to help the university community in any way that they can.”

Most classes will allow students to choose which mode they would prefer, virtual or in-person. Some class sections may be conducted with a rotation schedule, students coming to class in-person in smaller groups. Online classes may be synchronous, the students and professors meet together virtually at a scheduled time, or asynchronous, students have the flexibility to view course material at a time of their choice. 

“Our biggest effort was to try and provide as much flexibility as possible so faculty, thinking about their students, could try to find the best fit for their class and their communication style,” provost and vice president of academic affairs Bret Danilowicz said. “We still fully expect the large majority of students to be selecting the remote option… but we do know that there are students that really, really want to attend in-person and therefore they are being given that opportunity, but we don’t think those numbers are going to be very high.”

There are classes within the College of Education and College of Nursing that are required to be taught in-person due to accreditation requirements. Danilowicz ensured that these classes will be conducted safely following the CDC guidelines. 

During the spring, FAU is implementing random COVID-19 testing. Approximately 800 individuals, students or staff, will be selected every week. The testing will be voluntary and does not exclude those who have already been vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Faerman said that deans’ offices within their respective colleges have been provided with face masks and other supplies to ensure safety. 

Faerman explained that FAU has a contact tracing team that conducts an investigation when an individual who has been on campus tests positive for COVID-19. The team contacts those who have been in contact with the positive individual and a team is dispersed to sanitize any place on campus that that individual has come into contact with.

Volnick explained FAU’s safety triad, which is made up of face coverings, physical distancing, and cleanliness. She urged those returning to campus to report individuals who are not following the safety guidelines. 

“You’re not turning someone in, you’re protecting them and yourself by doing that. We can set up the protocols and practices but it really does take all of us in order to work together to get through this,” Volnick said. 

Reports can be made through FAU’s coronavirus webpage or a typical incident report.

FAU President John Kelly said, “I believe we’re seeing the end of the tunnel. We need to continue to work hard together. We need to continue to follow all safety protocols.” 

Gillian Manning is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email or tweet her @gillianmanning_ or email [email protected]