UF adding more face-to-face instruction in spring 2021, requiring bi-monthly COVID testing

The University of Florida is looking ahead, making a major announcement regarding students returning to class for the spring semester. 

“We are going to be expanding testing for certain populations of students to make it mandatory for certain populations of students,” said Steve Orlando, assistant vice president for communications at the University of Florida. 

Starting spring 2021, UF will require testing every two weeks for students who choose face-to-face learning, students in fraternities or sororities and students who live in on-campus housing. 

“We’re optimistic that this approach is the right way to go,” Orlando said. 

This as UF ramps up the number of in-person classes offered in January. 

“Hearing from students and some parents is there is a large appetite for that physical, in-person experience at the University of Florida.  We want to accommodate that,” Orlando said. 

Right now, there are 500 class sections for the Fall 2020 semester.  Come spring, the university will be offering 5,394 face-to-face undergraduate class sections. 

The university is estimating between 15,000-20,000 students will be taking classes on campus for the Spring 2021 semester. All students will be required to wear face coverings and follow social distancing rules.  

“Carlton Auditorium on UF campus normally holds about 600 students. With the social distancing, we’re looking at a maximum of 97 students. Once we’ve reached that maximum capacity, everyone else will be online,” Orlando said, giving an example of how UF will be spacing out classes. 

UF is working hard to make sure it’s as safe as possible for students to return to college classrooms. Orlando says there will be several locations on camps where students can take the required COVID-19 saliva tests. 

“We have the capacity currently to test over 2,000 students a day. 

“We’ll be keeping very close tabs on who gets tested, who’s been cleared, who’s not been cleared," Orlando said. 

He says UF will not allow students on campus if they miss a COVID-19 test until they get the test.