No major surprises at virtual town hall

Eternal Flame. Photo courtesy

It’s a new semester with the same pandemic looming over our every waking moment at Florida A&M University. As FAMU prepares to begin hyflex classes — or FAMU fFlex — President Larry Robinson and the senior leadership team held a virtual town hall on Thursday to address how the spring semester will be conducted.

Robinson started off the meeting by announcing that there will be a new COVID-19 testing site opening and available for students and faculty at the FAMU Clubhouse on South Adams Street, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The testing center will provide the use of nearly 7,000 rapid antigen supplied by the White House initiative on HBCUs.
“This initiative represents our desires to keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy during this unrelenting pandemic,” Robinson said.

The FAMU Clubhouse will also become a site to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The expected start date for the vaccinations could be as soon as next week. The first recipients of the vaccines will be health care workers and students and faculty working in the health field.

With hyflex classes starting next week all students and staff participating in physical instruction must obtain negative COVID results before coming back on campus. Biweekly COVID testing will start January 25-30 for undergraduate students and Feb 1-6 for staff and graduate students.

Beyond the COVID-19 talk, Provost Maurice Edington revealed that spring commencement has not been confirmed to be virtual or in person.

“We do not expect to make that determination until around March. We will keep the community updated,” Edington said.

The vice president for the Office of Student Affairs,  William Hudson, was excited to announce what the upcoming semester has in store including a Student Government Association town hall scheduled for Jan. 28. Student elections will be held Feb. 23-25, Hudson said, and Spring Preview is scheduled for March 28.

Hudson also announced that FAMU Towers will become a freshman residence hall along with Sampson and Young, while Polkinghorne Village will become an upperclassmen residence hall.

The housing portal opens on Jan 25 for the 2021-2022 school year.

Another new addition to the campus includes the dining HUB near FAMU Towers which will be opening as soon as next month.

The FAMU Cares application for donations will open soon. With the previous donations FAMU was able to purchase laptops and other equipment needed for remote learning. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic FAMU has lost about $20 million and about half was made up in funds from the CARES Act, according to Hudson.

FAMU Police Chief Terrence Calloway also advised students and faculty to be safe this upcoming weekend. His department is monitoring threats near the Capitol.

FAMU athletics has a huge year ahead with the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami Gardens against Jackson State University next September.

“We had a very spirited conversation last night with our peers at Jackson State and we gave them an introduction of how we do things in Florida. We might have even scared one of them away,”  Athletic Director Kortne Gosha said.