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Coronavirus In Florida: All State Universities Extend Remote Learning Through End Of Semester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Remote learning for all state university students in Florida is being extended for the rest of the spring semester due to the coronavirus.

Upon learning that four University of Florida students tested positive for COVID-19, the university, located in Gainesville, quickly informed students, faculty and employees that remote learning will continue.

"I am writing to let you know that in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis' announcement today that four University of Florida students have tested positive for COVID-19 and at the governor's recommendation, all UF classes will remain online for the remainder of the Spring semester," reads a statement by UF President Kent Fuchs. "Students who have not gone home yet must do so if possible."

DeSantis said he called Board of Governors Chairman Syd Kitson on Tuesday morning before deciding to recommend that all universities move to online classes.

"We think that will be safer for everybody, and we think the universities are equipped to handle the remote learning," the governor said.

The university system's Board of Governors also said schools should "consider using remote instruction for the early summer terms," although it is not required.

In addition, the 12 state universities will cancel May graduation ceremonies, according to a statement released by the board.

"Instead, each university is directed to develop an alternate schedule or method of delivery," the statement said.

DeSantis said the shift to online classes for the rest of the spring is meant to push students to leave campus and go home.

"One of the things we've noticed is the universities being with the spring break, a lot of students have just been congregating at the universities and going out and doing things there, and that is not something that we want," the governor told reporters.

In the case of the infected University of Florida students, a few of them traveled to "hot spots" in the U.S. and one student had studied abroad, DeSantis said.

UF officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the students' positive diagnoses.

But in a statement on Twitter, UF told students that classes would be online for the rest of the semester and urged them to go back home "if possible." The school also "strongly encouraged" employees to work remotely.

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The University of Miami, which is not part of the public university system, announced Tuesday it is also extending online instruction through the remainder of the spring semester, which concludes on May 6. UM is also implementing partial closure of on-campus housing beginning March 25.

Barry University in Miami is also extending remote learning for the remainder of the semester. Barry says students are urged to return home but basic services will be provided for those unable to leave.


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