Calling the policies “incredibly draconian” at a public health event, the Republican governor said the state is exploring its options for students.
Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested on Thursday that Florida could create a “bill of rights” to protect college students who face expulsion for attending parties under the strict Covid-19 guidelines schools are attempting to enforce.
Calling the policies “incredibly draconian” at a public health event, the Republican governor said the state is exploring its options for students without going into much detail. The idea comes as school leaders in Florida and beyond threaten stiff penalties for breaking social distancing rules in an effort to keep coronavirus transmission low and campuses open throughout the full semester.
“I personally think it’s incredibly draconian that a student would get potentially expelled for going to a party,” DeSantis said Thursday. “That’s what college kids do.”
It’s still happening: School leaders last month, at the dawn of the fall semester, came down hard on students and Greek organizations that gathered in large groups, defying school health guidelines. Fraternities were suspended, students were sent home from their dorms — all in an attempt to curb Covid-19 outbreaks that could cause colleges to close wholesale.
After a rash of coronavirus cases were reported in the first few weeks of classes, the spread appears to have slowed on university campuses.
The University of Florida saw 140 Covid-19 cases in the last 7 days, from Sept. 17-23, compared to 600 from Sept 10-16, according to UF’s dashboard. Additionally, 11 percent of UF’s isolation beds are currently in use compared to 16 percent at the high mark on Sept. 14.
The University of Central Florida reported 95 positive coronavirus cases among students and staff the week ending Sept. 19, compared to 97 cases the week ending Sept. 12 and 75 cases the week ending Sept. 5. The Orlando-based university has seen 1,021 total cases since March, according to the UCF dashboard.
Still, university leaders say not all students are adhering to the rules. Florida State University President John Thrasher, for instance, sent a stern reminder to students on Sept. 18 warning that in-person classes remain in jeopardy.
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