Will COVID-19 protocols change homecoming?

The homecoming parade usually draws a big crowd. Photo courtesy: tallahassee.com

Homecoming is the most anticipated event of the school year at Florida A&M. The annual celebration brings students, alumni, staff, families and friends from all over.

At Florida A&M, homecoming is sometimes called a “FAMULY reunion.” It is a week full of events catered to students and alumni to simply enjoy one another’s company.

In preparation for the anticipated event, decorations like small orange and green flags, as well as balloons, are hung up all around campus.

While homecoming is eagerly anticipated, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, some universities have announced that they will cancel homecoming in 2021. But FAMU has decided to go ahead with its annual homecoming. The administration has put various safety measures in place in order for people to enjoy homecoming.

William Hudson Jr., vice president of Student Affairs, said he believes the university will be able to safely enjoy its annual homecoming while following COVID-19 protocols.

“Florida A&M University has been dealing with COVID-19 for over a year and a half now,” Hudson said. “We take the protocols seriously. We follow the CDC guidelines as well as our state guidelines to ensure that we are protecting our students, faculty and staff.”

“We will be limiting space for different events, also encouraging social distancing, using larger venues or using outside venues to have different social events,” he added. “We know that a lot of places are canceling some of their homecoming activities, but we are going to continue to move forward.”

However, Hudson said that if the cases increase on campus the university will be flexible and make changes.

He believes it is important that students realize that participating in off-campus activities can increase their susceptibility to COVID-19 and also transmit it back on campus to other students.

“We need the complete collaboration from our students, faculty, alumni and staff to ensure that our students are safe so that we can enjoy our annual homecoming festivities on campus. We continue to say, ‘Don’t be the one to stop the FAMULY show,’” he added.

Marcus Thomas, vice president of SGA and co-chair of the homecoming committee, says he believes that FAMU will be able to have a homecoming to remember.

“As of now, homecoming is a go. We have biweekly meetings to plan out everything so everyone can come together,” he said. “We have sub-committees for every event, every committee has a facility lead as well as a student co-chair.”

He said they have separate sub-committee meetings before everyone comes together to plan everything out and give an overall view of what they have planned. Contracts have been signed, and they have also been talking to managers for artists for the comedy show. Everything is said to be set and ready to go.

“We will be having an artist release party coming soon, which will reveal the name of the artist that we will be having for homecoming,” Thomas said. “As soon as all contracts are finalized we will have the flyer out very soon, we know everyone is waiting to see who is coming.”

Thomas said there have been plenty of rumors that homecoming is canceled, but homecoming is not canceled and it is still a go, he said.

“We are making sure we are following all guidelines, and we expect to have a very epic return for homecoming this year,” he added.

Although some may believe that the Covid-19 protocols will not change homecoming, others like Tatyana Dixon, a third year computer science student, said that with homecoming coming up and the Covid- 19 protocols being in place, it will change homecoming.

Dixon said she hopes that individuals will wear their masks and are vaccinated, and if they are not then they should be turned around.

“Homecoming is a time where alumni are here, students are here, faculty, family and friends,” she said. “That is a lot of people from all across the world, we don’t know where they have been before they arrived here.”

“Everyone will get Covid-19 if they do not follow the Covid-19 protocols,” she added.

As of now, we look forward to what we know as homecoming and continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and remember to social distance.

FAMU’s vaccination site is located at 659 Ardelia Court (near the intersection of Perry and Gamble Street). The vaccination site operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The location offers Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Vaccinations are free.