Universities plan for fall semester despite uncertainty of COVID-19 pandemic

College students won’t see a quick return to campus this summer, or maybe even in the fall. Most colleges and universities are sticking to online classes this summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic develops, but what happens in the fall is still up in the air.

Online enrollment is open for summer courses at the University of Tampa.

“We’re up about 32%,” said Gary Simon, the University of Tampa’s director of summer and academic programs. “It’s an opportunity for the students to get ahead of the fall, not knowing what the fall is going to bring.”

For students wondering how long virtual education will continue, Simon said they are looking at every scenario.

University of Tampa

“There’s a lot that’s being considered for the fall. We plan to be on-campus this fall,” he said. “There will be some hybrid classes, hybrid environment maybe. We just don’t know... It will depend a lot on what the scientists tell us.”

University of South Florida President Steven Currall told Tampa’s mayor Wednesday during a Facebook live event that his school also hopes to resume classes on campus in the fall.

“That may be done in a phase-like manner. It will have to be done with those accommodations and precautions... in terms of masks and different configurations of space,” Currall said.

RELATED: Education leaders eye ways to reopen Florida schools

Thousands of students are paying tuition for the in-person college experience. So when the shift to online happened this spring, Currall said USF refunded students' housing and dining fees.

Looking ahead, it may happen again.

“We’re trying to be very thoughtful about this link between fees and the services that our students do get,” said Currall. “We also still have fixed costs and some of those costs still have to be covered by student fees.”

MORE: Hillsborough County’s summer school program to begin virtually; fee-based camps canceled through June

University leaders said students are adapting and things like tele-counseling and virtual libraries are available to help.

“We know that in a lot of the classes the students are setting up their own study groups through Zoom and other platforms, so they’re working through it,” said Simon.

USF said university leaders hope to have a detailed plan for the fall by mid-July. UT said it will also work in the coming weeks to figure out specifics.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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