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Local universities prepare for summer and fall semesters, with plans to relax COVID-19 restrictions

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Posted at 6:36 AM, Apr 29, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — With the spring semester coming to a close, colleges and universities are working on plans for the upcoming semesters.

At the University of South Florida, summer classes start on May 17.

For the beginning of the semester, school leaders plan to continue a mix of in-person, online, and hybrid courses.

USF says it will closely monitor COVID-19 conditions with hopes to be able to significantly increase the number of in-person classes and student activities in the later part of the summer semester, which starts on June 28.

For the fall, officials say they’re preparing for a full return to pre-COVID-19 in-person course delivery and in-person student activities.

They’re still working on those details right now.

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At the University of Tampa, summer classes begin on May 24 and they’ll consist of in-person, hybrid, and fully online settings. Physical distancing and mask-wearing will continue.

In the fall, school leaders say they’re expecting a return to face-to-face learning and university activities.

COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions in classrooms and gatherings on campus will likely be lifted, as well as restrictions in residence halls.

However, UT officials say health measures like mask-wearing, extra hand washing, and increased cleaning will probably continue, depending on guidance from public health experts.

UT says it’s strongly encouraging students to receive a vaccine while they’re at home on summer break. That’s something many colleges across the state are doing and experts are keeping a close eye on student vaccinations.

"I think we’re seeing more and more a trend that major universities even smaller ones are saying we want to bring students back. Everybody is disadvantaged as a consequence of it. We want to protect everybody so if you’re going to come back you’re going to have to have a vaccine. It’s not going to be universal, Florida schools are probably going to wait to see what the governor says,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, Senior Associate Dean at USF Morsani College of Medicine.