The first day of the fall semester at the University of Florida begins Aug. 31. But with coronavirus numbers spiking in the state, students are struggling with the question of whether or not to return to campus.
Erin Cho is a UF student from New Jersey and has decided not to return to campus for the fall semester.
“I guess it’s like harder for out-of-state students because like obviously you want to go to Florida but Florida’s like, the numbers are crazy right now,” Cho said.
Rising UF Senior Ragan Fewell is from Maryland but is spending her summer in Maine.
She is torn about what she should do.
“A part of me just wants to stay in Maine until I kind of get a feel for how school life there is going to be,” Fewell said.
According to the university’s reopening plan, classes will be held online, face-to-face or as a hybrid course. This plan gives students the option to take classes online and to attend labs and classes safely in person that would be difficult to hold remotely.
Cho said she thought the decision to stay home was financially smarter and also expected a reduction in some of the cost of attendance.
“I’m not using any of the resources at school and I’m literally just home taking classes the same as everybody else,” Cho said.
University spokesman Steve Orlando said many students and parents have reached out with concerns about tuition. The costs will remain unchanged in the fall.
“We will not be changing tuition, and the fact of the matter is we have invested a lot in that and it’s actually – believe it or not – it’s a little more expensive to do classes online than it is in person,” Orlando said.
Fewell is worried that not returning for the fall semester has more than just financial challenges.
“My biggest fears are again I’m not going to have as many academic resources and I am also not going to be as involved on campus,” Fewell explained.
Orlando wants to remind students that the university created online spaces for students to utilize remotely.
Amenities opening in-person with social distancing for students returning in fall will include the Southwest Recreation Center, campus libraries and the Reitz Union.
Orlando said he is optimistic the fall semester will be successful and wants to reassure everyone that the university’s plan accommodates students who wish to take classes both in-person or online.