The Florida Tech Pandemic Response Team announced on Jan. 6 that Florida Tech would follow a two week online learning period from Jan. 11-24 along with other precautionary measures for COVID-19 in response to the spike in cases following the holiday season.

“We believe this two week ‘self-quarantine’ will allow us to minimize any type of outbreak from occurring on campus,” said Krishna Patel, Florida Tech’s COVID-19 case manager. 

Bino Campanini, chair of the Pandemic Response Team at Florida Tech, said that based off of the pattern of cases following Halloween and Thanksgiving where many people were traveling, the idea behind the two week online learning period was to, “stop a lot of people coming back when they may be positive and then bring it back to campus and spread it out.”

    Campanini said that he met with Patel on Jan. 5 to draft a plan for Florida Tech’s return to learning before introducing the plan to the rest of the response team.

    “We came up with a plan, sent it out to the PRT, got the feedback in, put our plan together, gave it to the president for approval, and the message went out the next day,” Campanini explained.

    The Pandemic Response Team consists of representatives from all departments of Florida Tech, including Executive Vice President and Provost, Marco Carvalho, who suggested to Campanini that labs be excluded from the two week online period.

    “The number of students using the labs is a small number compared to anyone going to class so it’s much more controlled, and the labs are a little harder to obviously do remote,” Campanini said.

The email announcement regarding the online period also stated that Florida Tech will be taking additional precautions during this two week period.

The precautions included the Panther Dining Hall switching entirely to takeout service, orientation consisting of a drive-through check in and online presentations, the Clemente Center being closed for the two week period, no in-person meetings for student clubs and organizations, and room reservations and campus tours being suspended until Jan. 25.

    Patel explained that, “these additional precautions help keep large groups of people from gathering and exposing fellow students, faculty, and staff from those showing symptoms due to travel and holiday events.”

“Hopefully by the 25th, we’ll be back to normal and in a manageable situation,” Campanini said.

    Michaela Foley, a senior studying genomics and molecular genetics and biotechnology, believes that Florida Tech took the necessary precautions to further prevent the virus spreading amongst students.

    “I hope everyone remembers that the university makes these decisions for the safety of its students, faculty, and staff. We will never officially control or slow the spread on campus if students do not do their part to ensure the safety of their peers’ health,” Foley said.

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