Daily News Updates: What to expect this fall semester

Here's what you need to know on July 1

6:20 p.m.

With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to spike throughout Florida, Miami Dade County announced facemasks will now be required in public spaces inside and outside. Also, Miami-Dade hit 1,000 COVID-19 deaths today.

Here's what you need to know on June 30

At the Town Hall for students and their families, the University of Miami answered a number of questions regarding the fall semester. Here are a series of tweets that describe some of the leaders’ announcements and statements.

University of Miami administrators will be holding town hall meetings today for staff, faculty, students and parents to discuss the university’s plan for reopening for the fall semester on Aug. 17. While the school did unveil its four-pillar plan for reopening, many questions remain unanswered.

Leaders from the university who will be available questions regarding the fall semester include:

  • President Julio Frenk
  • Provost and Executive Vice President for academic affairs Jeffrey Duerk
  • Chief Operating Officer Jacqueline Travisano
  • Vice President for student affairs Patricia Whitely
  • Vice Provost for research Erin N. Kobetz
  • Director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Stephen  Nimer
  • Director of Student Health Services Howard Anapol

Register here: Townhall for faculty and staff at @ 3 p.m. EST.

Register here: Townhall for students and their families @ 5:30 p.m. EST.

Here's what you need to know on June 26

Florida reached a new milestone today, as 8,942 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed, the largest the state has added on any given day yet.

Florida’s Department of Health announced Friday morning the state’s new high of 122,960 cases.

With coronavirus numbers rising in Florida, the University of Miami is continuing in its preparations to bring students back to campus this fall and expects to do so safely through a plan centered around four pillars: testing and tracing the virus, enhanced cleaning on campus, social distancing and mandatory flu vaccinations.

Graphic by Jess Morgan

Here's what you need to know on June 25

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to surge across south Florida, University of Miami students are beginning to wonder what their fall semester will look like. On Wednesday, June 24, Florida reported its highest number of cases in a single day— 5,500. While there is still a lot of uncertainty, UM’s vice president for student affairs, Patricia Whitley, provided a glimpse into what this fall might look like on campus during an Instagram Live on Wednesday evening. 


New classroom guidelines

Students will be returning to in-person classes, Whitely said. However, for some courses the  university is planning to implement a mixed hybrid class schedule. Whitley explained a student may have a Monday and Wednesday class where they would have class in person on Monday and Friday and then class online on Wednesday. Tuition will remain the same despite the mixed-hybrid class approach. 

In order to hold larger classes while allowing for a 6-feet social distance between students recommended by CDC, the Watsco Center and the Shalala ballrooms will be used as lecture spaces in the fall. The Shalala ballrooms, which typically can hold around 750 students, will now only hold 140 students. 

To further decrease classroom density, course waitlists are blocked for now, Whitely said.

Face coverings must be worn on campus and potentially in the classroom. “If a faculty member [requires facemasks] on their syllabus, the faculty member can say they must be online today if they didn’t bring a mask and may need you to leave,” Whitely said. Some classroom spaces may have Plexi shields if possible to provide extra protection.

Outside of the classroom, there will be 30 public health student ambassadors through the Butler Center to enforce school policies like face mask coverings on campus. 

“We need our own students to help reinforce our policies,” Whitely said.



In terms of dining on-campus, the school is hoping to provide more outside dining seating options by Mahoney Pearson as well as on the intramural field outside of Hecht and Stanford Residential colleges. 

Administrators are also planning to have an application for students to use to see how busy the dining hall is during the day. 

“I don’t want people waiting 45 minutes to get food,” Whitely said. The app would be able to  show when the dining halls are busy and allow students to plan their meals around that.  Whitley explained there will also be more takeout options and self-serve areas, such as the salad bar, may be serviced by dining staff.  

The Rathskeller, a campus-favorite restaurant, will reopen with more take-out options and social distancing, Whitely said. 


Testing and tracing 

As part of the university’s four pillars for a safe return, there will be a COVID-19 testing site on campus. In the event a student tests positive in the dorms, they will be able to quarantine at one of the university’s 75 to 80 total quarantine spaces. The university has secured 25 hotel rooms and 55 single dorms in the Mahoney-Pearson dorms to isolate positive students.. 

If a student’s roommate or suitemate gets coronavirus, Whitely said the university will help the student clean their dorm and give them the opportunity to get tested. 

Every student will have a symptom tracker where they can self-report and track their symptoms in an application. Students will also be able to use contact tracing and find who they were with that tested positive. 



The University plans to reopen on Aug. 1, welcoming back faculty and residential staff. First-year students will be given appointment times to move in Aug. 9-11, with at most 43 people moving in per hour to any given residential area. Only parents will be permitted to accompany their students for move-in, barring other family members including siblings. 

Orientation will begin on Aug. 11 but will be mostly virtual. Resident Assistants will conduct much of their orientation floor activities on Zoom. 

The capacity of Hecht and Stanford Residential Colleges has been lowered from 950 to 750 students, as more single rooms will be offered to lessen the density of the dorms. Stanford was originally set to be demolished this summer to make way for Centennial Village, a new housing project that will replace the freshmen towers. However, President Julio Frenk told student media leaders at a roundtable in April that this project has been put on hold due to coronavirus. There will be a new housing policy in the dorms only allowing one guest per student who must be a current UM student.

As part of the second pillar of UM’s fall return plan, there will be intensive cleanings of restrooms in the residential colleges two to three times a day. During Thanksgiving and after, students in University Village and Lakeside Village will be allowed to stay, but will be encouraged to go home due to a possible second wave of coronavirus cases, (Whitely said.) Eaton, Hecht, Stanford and Mahoney Pearson will be closed through winter break until the start of spring semester.


Campus events and shared spaces

Whitely confirmed that UM will abide by current CDC guidelines, meaning events on campus cannot exceed 50 people. The farmer’s market, which typically takes place every Wednesday in front of Richter Library, will most likely be moved to Miller Drive to allow for more social distancing, she said. Tabling at the University Center Breezeway will likely be moved to the Rock, Whitely said.

The UC pool and the Herbert Wellness Center will be open with equipment moved around to account for social distance, but there will be limitations in the fitness rooms and classes. 

To accommodate for social distancing, the libraries will not be operating at full capacity, thus, the university is looking to use other public spaces for studying, such as the food court.

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