FAMU homecoming underway amid COVID

FAMU Homecoming flyer 21′ “An Epic Return.” Courtesy of SJGC

Florida A&M University is enjoying one of the biggest homecoming celebrations of the year after being forced to cancel the event in 2020 — while still taking the necessary safety precautions to address COVID-19.

This is also one of the busiest weeks for students as they finish up midterms, which makes the highly anticipated homecoming week one to remember.

Homecoming week consists of multiple activities and events every day of the week, including the “Grads Are Back,” a time for FAMU alumni to visit current students and offer words of encouragement to push them through their academic careers. With so many events held all in one week, it raises a troubling question: how will FAMU keep the safety of participants intact amid COVID? The fact that homecoming is still on schedule shows how well FAMU has recovered from the pandemic.

On April 25, 2020, FAMU opened its testing site not just for students and staff but for the public, particularly residents of the city’s south side. Since then, the testing site has performed more than half a million COVID-19 tests and more than 18,000 first dose vaccines. FAMU has become the first institution in the state to serve that many tests and vaccines in such a short amount of time.

President Larry Robinson says he wanted to make it easy for people to get the vaccine, no matter the circumstance. “We are the first site in our region to not require a physician’s referral, because we thought that would be another hurdle for people who may not have a physician, or afford to see one. It would be a hindrance.”

As of Oct. 27, there had been a reported 236 positive cases in Leon County within the last seven days, according to the CDC, and 58.4 percent of the population in Leon County is fully vaccinated, which is considered substantial according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Director of FAMU’s Student Health Services, Tanya Tatum, says she believes FAMU handled the pandemic well, considering the challenges it presented.

“In our lifetime, we all have never been in this kind of situation before, but I think we did a really good job at planning and putting protections in place,” Tatum said.

With as many resources available for COVID-19, homecoming is expected to have a low turnout in positive cases. President Robinson says there will be protocols at all events, including facial coverings and hand sanitizing stations. He encourages social distancing as much as possible.

If you need to take care of any COVID-19 needs ahead of homecoming events, you can visit the FAMU testing site at 2507 Wahnish Way. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For vaccinations, visit the mobile unit at 659 Ardelia Court.