Robinson tells Faculty Senate: ‘We will get through this’

President Robinson addresses the Faculty Senate on Tuesday. Photo by Kyra Watts

COVID-19 has rocked the world and changed a lot about how Florida A&M University operates on a day-to-day basis in less than a year. The Faculty Senate at FAMU is working hard to make sure that the university and the students continue to sustain their excellence through these unprecedented times. 

Members of the Faculty Senate met via zoom Tuesday. FAMU President Larry Robinson began his remarks with warm words of gratitude to the faculty and staff for their dedication and hard work. 

“I just want to thank all of you again for the tremendous work that you have been doing to serve this institution and in particular the students of this institution,” Robinson said. “I am confident we will get through this.”

Robinson admits that COVID-19 disrupted some of the university’s normal processes, but he also recognizes the amount of time, dedication and resilience exhibited by his faculty and staff during this transition. This required countless hours of extensive training to ensure a smooth transition to virtual, remote, and HyFlex Modality learning environments. 

FAMU has spent considerable time and resources upgrading the classroom facilities on the main campus to allow students to return to the traditional classroom setting this semester, while continuing to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s social distancing guidelines. Florida A&M Provost Maurice Edington, says that the upgrades will lead to long-term benefits for both the students and the university. 

“We’re not doing this just to get through this current academic year,” Edington said. “These technology upgrades and enhancements to our classroom facilities will position the university to have top-notch facilities to really broaden our educational reach.” 

Many faculty members and guests in the meeting raised questions about FAMU’s vaccination distribution plan, COVID testing policies and the relationship between self-reporting and the accuracy of FAMU’s COVID-19 data. 

As COVID-19 positivity rates continue to rise in Florida and across the country, FAMU’s faculty and staff want to make sure that it’s safe to return to their classrooms. FAMU is expecting their first allocation of the vaccine as early as this week and will follow state guidelines in regard to eligibility and distribution. The goal is to provide faculty, staff and students with the opportunity to receive the vaccine, but this first allocation of doses will simply not be enough to meet that goal right now.

The university will continue to provide free COVID testing at Bragg Memorial Stadium. Faculty, staff and students are being encouraged to voluntarily comply with testing and self-reporting protocols, as it is mandatory. 

The director of Student Health Services, Tanya Tatum, says that the testing protocols play a significant role in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on the campus of Florida A&M University. “Being compliant with our request for testing really helps not only that individual, but the entire campus community,” Tatum said.