By John Decker
Flagler College’s COVID-19 task force oversees the school’s response to the pandemic and is working to ensure a safe return to a “normal” on campus fall semester.
While Flagler plans a fully, in-person semester with no online classes, no decision has been made about masks or social distance mandates.
The COVID-19 task force’s hope is to get back to normal, but they are cautious because it depends on cases, vaccines and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, said Laura Stevenson, a member of the task force, assistant to the president and secretary to the Board of Trustees.
“We want to be positive and optimistic. We need to listen to health officials,” Stevenson said.
Flagler College needs to reach 70%-90% herd immunity to get back to normal. Stevenson encourages everyone on campus to get vaccinated, but there is no mandatory vaccination requirement.
“If we can get vaccinated, we can get back to normal sooner,” Stevenson said.
Flagler College partnered with Flagler Health+ through the pandemic. The partnership offered a vaccine clinic for students to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 7, 14 or 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the hospital.
In addition to an increase in access to vaccinations, things on the Flagler campus are getting better.
Flagler College has moved from campus COVID alert level 3 to level 2, allowing for more on-campus activity. The surveillance testing, where randomly selected students are tested for COVID-19, has found no positive students during the 2021 spring semester, said Kristine Roberts, COVID-19 coordinator of Flagler College.
Roberts said the task force is learning from the 2020 fall semester. They are constantly making updates and following new guidelines.
“As the virus adapts, we adapt,” Roberts said.
Roberts said she has admired the students’ ability to adapt to following safety protocols and guidelines and their desire to continue to learn through such a difficult time.
“Students have been resilient this past year,” Roberts said.
Christina Coyne, student ambassador and visiting service intern, works at the Flagler College’s admission office, said she is eager for the fall semester.
“If we can do it safely, I’m 100% ready,” Coyne said.
Coyne is excited to see some sort of normalcy in the fall because she is involved in lots of campus activities. She wants to see casual, larger events take place with more people.
Coyne said she wants Flagler College to loosen the reins on restrictions more, but she does not know what to expect.
COVID-19 task force plans to still be around next semester with overseeing possible surveillance testing and quarantines. Roberts said the task force established many resources for students. There is the Flagler COVID-19 webpage, Saints Health Club and Flagler Health+ app.
“The goal is we [the task force] become unnecessary,” Stevenson said.