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Colleges in Tampa Bay are reopening. Here’s how they’re doing it.

Common solutions include face coverings, social distancing rules, staggered schedules and a mix of online and in-person classes.
A student walks across the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida, which is in the second phase of a four-phase reopening plan.
A student walks across the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida, which is in the second phase of a four-phase reopening plan. [ Times (2016) ]
Published Aug. 21, 2020
Updated Aug. 24, 2020

The fall semester is here for colleges and universities across the Tampa Bay area. Here is a look at how they are responding to the coronavirus crisis:

Eckerd College

The Sheen Patio at Eckerd College is one of many places on campus where classes can be held outdoors during the pandemic.
The Sheen Patio at Eckerd College is one of many places on campus where classes can be held outdoors during the pandemic. [ JONAH HINEBAUGH | Times ]

Eckerd College has shifted from a semester to a block schedule and will phase in the return of its students, starting on Aug. 31, when first-year students come to campus. All other students are due back by Oct. 26. Classes will be online and in-person or in hybrid mode, and many will be offered outdoors. Students will be required to download an app on their phones and complete daily symptom-tracking surveys that can help with the university’s contact tracing efforts.

Related: RELATED: To deal with the virus, Eckerd College takes a familiar step: Go outside.
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Hillsborough Community College

An English literature class at Hillsborough Community College. [Times (2016)]
An English literature class at Hillsborough Community College. [Times (2016)]

Hillsborough Community College’s campuses have re-opened and the fall semester has begun with all faculty and staff returning, except for those seeking high-risk exemptions. The school is offering an online-only option for the majority of courses as well as in-person and hybrid courses, with staggered meeting dates to allow for smaller courses. Masks are required in buildings.

The school’s website includes a disclaimer stating that contracting COVID-19 could lead to severe illness or death. “By engaging in the HCC community through academics, instruction or employment,” it says, “you acknowledge and voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

• • •

Saint Leo University

Leo the Lion, a bronze sculpture symbolizing Saint Leo University, stands between Kirk Hall and the Donald R. Tapia College of Business on campus.
Leo the Lion, a bronze sculpture symbolizing Saint Leo University, stands between Kirk Hall and the Donald R. Tapia College of Business on campus. [ Courtesy of Saint Leo University ]

Classes will begin Monday and students began moving back to the Pasco County campus this week. Saint Leo is offering online-only and hybrid in-person courses, though every student will take at least one course fully online to increase social distancing. Hybrid courses will be based on a rotating schedule with staggered meeting times. All classes will move online-only after Thanksgiving. Room capacity was decreased to allow for increased social distancing, and dining hall services will be limited to students only. Daily symptom-tracking surveys must be completed. Masks are required in shared spaces on campus.

Related: RELATED: Saint Leo University to move online after Thanksgiving enrollment trends close 17 campuses

St. Petersburg College

The entrance to St. Petersburg College's downtown campus.
The entrance to St. Petersburg College's downtown campus. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

St. Petersburg College is in the third phase of its four-phase re-opening plan. The fall semester began Aug. 17. The school is offering a mix of face-to-face, online only and hybrid courses. Events and activities will remain online, and face-to-face student services are by appointment. The on-campus Nature’s Table will be open for to-go services only. Masks are required in shared spaces.

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Stetson University College of Law

Stetson University College of Law Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library at 1401 61st St. S, in Gulfport.
Stetson University College of Law Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library at 1401 61st St. S, in Gulfport. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Stetson University College of Law began its fall semester on Aug. 17. Students were offered a choice of in-person, online or hybrid courses. Classes end by Nov. 9. Face-coverings will be required in shared spaces and noncompliance can be reported to human resources for employees and Student Affairs for students. The campus library remains closed.

• • •

University of South Florida

The fountain leading to the Marshall Center on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.
The fountain leading to the Marshall Center on the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida. [ CHRIS URSO | Times (2013) ]

USF is in the second phase of it’s four-phase re-opening plan, with 50 percent of faculty and staff back on campus and courses to start Monday. Students began moving into dorms this week. The university is offering online, in-person and hybrid courses. Libraries, student centers and campus recreation facilities on all campuses will be open with limited capacity and hours. Masks will be required in shared spaces.

• • •
Related: USF moves to second phase of reopening. Classes to begin in person.

University of Tampa

The University of Tampa's silver minarets are an iconic part of downtown.
The University of Tampa's silver minarets are an iconic part of downtown. [ Times (2015) ]

The University of Tampa is opening early on Aug. 26 with most classes offered in person. Students began moving in this week. Faculty members considered to be at high risk for contracting the coronavirus were able to request the ability to teach remotely, but all other classes will be offered with some type of face-to-face component, some with staggered meeting times to allow for smaller class sizes. All students and faculty are required to complete a daily symptom-tracking survey, and larger spaces will be transformed into classrooms. Students were required to sign an addendum stating they would not be refunded in the event dorms are forced to close during the term, though a university spokesperson said the school would try to assist students if that happened.

Related: RELATED: University of Tampa plans to reopen with mostly in-person classes