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Florida Atlantic University begins fall semester with limited number of students on campus

3,100 students living on campus this semester
Posted at 3:46 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 17:48:41-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Florida Atlantic University recently welcomed thousands of students back to campus for the fall semester.

FAU is hoping to avoid what happened at other colleges, which were forced to move to virtual learning on a few days into the new school year after a surge in coronavirus cases.

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The campus looked almost empty Wednesday afternoon since many classes are being held online.

Freshmen Chelsea Hodges and Melissa Gonzales are two of the 3,100 students living on campus this semester.

"They have been telling us to wear our mask 24/7," Gonzales said.

Chelsea Hodges and Melissa Gonzales
Florida Atlantic University students Chelsea Hodges and Melissa Gonzales are living on campus and say most students are complying with the school's rules amid the pandemic.

Rules in the dorms are different this year. One of the most significant changes is no guests are allowed.

"They want us to stay contained in our own dorms, so we can't really go anywhere or other dorm rooms," freshman Keyvon Walker said.

Only 20 percent of classes are being held in person with a class-size maximum of 50 people.

Freshman Alice Assi chose to live off-campus this semester but has had a few in-person classes this week.

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"There were only 10 people in my class," said Assi. "A person skips two desks and then skip a whole row."

Vice president of administrative affairs Stacy Volnick said any on-campus event must be limited to 10 people or less.

"It is about keeping people healthy right now," Volnick said.

Any clubs or FAU-affiliated groups must follow student code.

"We are trying to have as many virtual events as we can," Volnick said.

However, off-campus partying at colleges across the U.S. have been linked to COVID-19 cases.

Volnick said they have partnered with police to help with enforcement and will make contact with students who may be partying.

"Our first and foremost interested is making sure everyone is healthy, so can we interview those students and do contract tracing if necessary," Volnick said.

RELATED: Florida State University president tells students to stop partying

Students on campus say so far everyone seems to be following the rules.

"They are very strict with it, and I can tell they are very on top of it," said Gonzales.

Students are hoping to avoid being sent home if there is a spike in coronavirus cases.

"I really hope that doesn't happen," said Gonzales. "That would be the worst-case scenario."

FAU officials said currently they plan to hold all classes online after Thanksgiving break.