The University of Florida Plans In-Person Spring Classes

After months of online learning, it’s hard to remember a time when classes weren’t on Zoom, campus was bustling and students could interact with each other in a classroom setting.

However, the prospect of returning to pre-COVID-19 conditions may not be as impossible as it seems after the University of Florida announced it will be increasing the number of in-person classes offered in spring 2021.

In a video released by the university on Oct. 9, President Kent Fuchs addressed spring semester plans.

“The next step we must take is to significantly increase the opportunity for students to experience in-person, face-to-face learning,” Fuchs said. “Our students deserve this opportunity.”

According to The Gainesville Sun, the Oct. 6 announcement means UF is planning to offer the same number of in-person classes as spring 2020. Classes will be socially distanced, and masks will continue to be required.

Taylor Stevens, a 19-year-old nursing sophomore, said she agrees with the plan for spring. Before the semester started, Stevens said she didn’t expect managing all-online classes to be too hard. Now, she said she would describe online classes as a big struggle.

“In the sense of having more of that good teacher-student interaction, I would definitely go to an in-person class,” she said. “And it would feel like I was actually in class rather than just sitting at my desk all day on online calls.”

Using the HyFlex teaching method, professors will teach classes through a mixture of both online and in-person offerings, allowing students to choose the form of attendance that makes them feel the most comfortable.

Keeleigh Jenkins, an 18-year-old animal sciences freshman, said she also supports in-person classes next semester because she wants to gain more experience through labs.

“Hopefully, the people that are nervous or have health complications will have options to where they can continue their studies online,” she said. “But I think it’s beneficial to people that have more hands-on majors where it’s really critical to gain that experience to have in-person classes if that’s something they’re comfortable with.”

Following news of these plans, a “UF Community Petition” was created in opposition to UF’s goal for the spring semester. In its explanation, the petition describes the university’s plan as “both poorly conceived and reckless.”

“Most important, such a plan endangers the health and indeed the lives of UF faculty, staff, students and their families in Gainesville and throughout the state,” the form says.

As of now, over 3,200 UF students, faculty and staff have signed the petition.

Isabella Bercoon, a 19-year-old information systems sophomore, said she thinks UF’s plan for spring semester is a transition that is necessary to improve positive learning.

“I definitely think there will be more cases,” Bercoon said. “However, I think if the proper measures are in place, like everyone wearing masks and teachers being sure to stand six feet away, we definitely can keep the faculty safe.”

Students can expect the schedule of classes to be released Oct. 30, and course registration opens Nov. 16.