DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Students at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach can soon head back to school.
Spring semester for in-person classes at B-CU is scheduled to begin Feb. 15, the school announced in a news release Tuesday.
All courses began online only on Jan. 11 due to the spread of COVID-19.
“While we are disappointed to have postponed welcoming students back to campus following the holidays, our commitment to maintain the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff mandated the delay,” said Bethune-Cookman University President E. LaBrent Chrite, Ph.D. “Still, we continued teaching and learning through a robust use of online instruction. And we are mindful of the guidelines relative to preventing COVID 19 and its variants, taking every precaution to protect the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”
The school said the decision to welcome back students comes as positivity rates in Florida and the nation appear to show signs of leveling off, along with the increasing availability of vaccines.
“We continue to work with faculty and staff to ensure we get through this,” Chrite said. “We know they are excited to come back and I know they wanted to come back.”
Chrite said it was a difficult decision after losing millions of dollars this semester from campus dorms being closed following the university’s prior financial hardships.
“It is, of course, tough but we expect to close and finish this year in the black,” Chrite said.
Students will be able to return to campus on Thursday, ahead of classes starting on Monday.
All students will be tested for the coronavirus upon their return to campus and safety policies, including social distancing, will be mandated, the school said.
Freshman LaKeria Commer-Willis said she’s ready to return to campus, though she admits her freshman year is different than she expected.
“If you’re a freshman, you are excited to come to college, and you’re thinking wow I’m really living this life. I made it. Then you turn around and you can’t even go you have to stay at home,” Commer-Willis said.
The freshman added she’s not been a fan of learning online but she understands why campus leaders chose to delay in-person learning.
“Because Covid is affecting people’s lives,” Commer-Willis said.
B-CU has canceled spring break and there may be more adjustments to the academic calendar, officials said.
Chrite said the campus has isolation and quarantine rooms for people who test positive. He said he’s also reached out to the county health department to request the campus be used someday as a vaccination site to give more access to people who want the vaccine.