It’s been over one year of tackling college life amidst a pandemic. For many of us, we have probably spit into a tube or gotten our noses swabbed more times than we’ve been able to attend in-person events.
Though the lack of a typical college experience is difficult to endure, these precautions are crucial for returning to normality in future semesters.
To ensure the safety of life on campus, the University of Florida implemented a routine testing system at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester for those living in residence halls, participating in face-to-face classroom instruction or actively partaking in Greek life at UF.
Students in these testing groups are required to get tested every 14 days in order to be “cleared for campus.”
However, as of March 15, only students participating in face-to-face classroom instruction are required to continue this testing system.
As stated in UF’s updated spring 2021 COVID-19 plan, “Based on the positivity rates, the routine testing groups were adjusted to only include undergraduate and law students participating in face-to-face classroom instruction.”
In addition to loosening COVID-19 testing requirements, the University of Florida intends to “return to a largely normal course” for the summer B and fall semesters.
“Students who want to take face-to-face courses in a classroom with a professor will be able to do so,” affirms Joe Glover, Provost and Senior Vice President, in an update posted on March 19.
As of March 22, there are currently more than 29.9 million reported cases of Coronavirus in the United States alone, making up about 24.17% of all cases in the entire world.
Of those 29.9 million cases, the state of Florida accounts for 2.01 million of the cases, or 6.73%.
Alachua County currently has 23,015 reported cases. With a population of about 269,043 people, 8.55% of Alachua county residents have had Coronavirus.
Luckily, there are now three different types of vaccines available in America to combat these cases.
In Alachua County, 110,468 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of March 22.
Fully vaccinated people make up 17.69% of the Alachua County population. People vaccinated with at least one dose make up 25.13% of the population.
“To date, our collaborative effort with the health department has vaccinated over 11,000 individuals, almost 20% of the 60,000 plus individuals in Alachua County who have been vaccinated,” writes Michael Lauzardo, MD, MSc Director, UF Health Screen, Test & Protect Deputy Director, Emerging Pathogens Institute Associate Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine UF College of Medicine.
In the state of Florida, in order to be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you must be 50 years of age and older, determined to be extremely vulnerable by a physician, a health care worker with direct patient contact, or a resident or staff member of a long-term care facility.
With these criteria, the majority of students at the University of Florida do not meet the current qualifications to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning that it is crucial to maintain safety protocols until all students have received the vaccine.
“Summer A and C semesters will be conducted in the same way as the Spring semester – with physical distancing, reduced classroom capacities and hybrid classes – a combination of in-person and synchronous online instruction,” Glover explains.
“For Summer B and Fall, we may continue to wear masks, based on guidance that suggests a small possibility that those who are vaccinated could still harbor the virus and spread it to others.”
If we continue to follow CDC guidelines for safety, then we are heading on the right track towards a Coronavirus-free future.
As the state of Florida continues to loosen COVID-19 mandates, we have to take extra precautions to guarantee our safety and health.
Vaccines and businesses at full capacity don’t mean that the pandemic is gone. It’s important to continue social distancing and wearing a mask when in the general public.
For now, we must continue to endure Zoom University and socially distanced activities in order for our dream college experiences to come true.