State Leaders Say Florida Universities To Reopen in the Fall

Students walk to classes by the USF Bull mascot near the Marshall Student Center on the University of South Florida college campus quad in Tampa, FL, USA on January 15, 2020. Photo and Caption: Leigh Trail/

State higher education leaders announced Monday, May 18 that Florida’s public university campuses will reopen in the fall. Details are set to be discussed at the State University System’s Board of Governors meeting, where a task force will present guidelines for reopening. Representatives from each of the 12 schools in the system are due to share individual plans on June 23. State university campuses across the state went into lockdown mode when the Board of Governors ordered schools to move towards distance learning, making hundreds of students move to online classes for the rest of the school year.

Online classes have been a challenge for parents and students alike, as many resources are not available and parents do not know how they can go about educating their child outside of the classroom. Students and their parents have both claimed online classes do not meet their expectations and it’s hard to get motivated from home. Teachers have also faced challenges when trying to make a curriculum for their students, as well as figure out how to teach a subject online as opposed to in a traditional in-person setting.

A State University System of Florida task force is developing guidelines for how Florida’s 12 public universities can safely welcome 420,000 students back onto campuses in August for fall semester. State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser III will present those proposals to the system’s 17-member Board of Governors on May 28.

Florida State University campus in Tallahassee, FL, USA on May 3, 2020. Photo and Caption: Felix Mizioznikov/

The nation’s second-largest public university system sent students and staff home in March when school campuses across Florida were shuttered. University officials said a campus reopening plan, or a plan for continued remote curriculum, must be in place by mid-July to properly prepare for fall semesters.

Monday’s State University System of Florida announcement came as “full phase one” of Governor Ron DeSantis’ ’Safe reopening plan went into effect with relaxed restrictions on restaurants, gyms and public gatherings. Adding to the momentum Monday was Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa’s announcement it would reopen Thursday with “new and stringent ‘Safe and Sound’ program guidelines” that include mandatory face masks and temperature checks for all guests and staff.

In setting these guidelines, the task force has recognized that each university has a dedicated mission with unique strengths and characteristics, as well as an extraordinary environment that includes densely populated urban areas, more rural settings and students from all regions of the state, the nation, and the world.

The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors. Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the system’s coordination and operation. The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the System’s chief executive. For more information, please visit the State University System of Florida website.