‘It’s a lot quieter’: USF campus life continues to change due to COVID-19

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The University of South Florida closed its Recreation & Wellness facility on its Tampa campus Sunday after several students tested positive for coronavirus.

“We had some student employees who tested positive for COVID-19 and then there were some additional students who used the facility who tested positive for COVID-19,” said Adam Freeman with USF.

Across the nation, universities are switching to online learning and closing student facilities to try to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It’s very early in the semester. We are trying to remain very vigilant. We spend a lot of time trying to enforce healthy behaviors,” Freeman said.

On campus at USF, there are fewer students, and those who are there are wearing face coverings.

“It’s a lot quieter and with online classes, I feel like learning is a little harder,” said second-year student Martin Ruiz.

Biomedical science major Darrell Crockett says the online learning is presenting a number of challenges for his education.

“Being biomedical science is a little different, not having that face-to-face interaction is different and not being able to readily ask your professors questions, you have to email and get replies back,” Crockett said.

Shivan Shukla is an environmental science major and for him, the pandemic is proving real-world lessons.

“I’m learning a lot, learning the intersectionality of public health, public policy,” Shukla said.

Still, for him, campus life has changed greatly.

“Last semester, right before COVID started I would pretty much spend all day every day here on campus,” he said.

Now, his visits to campus are far less frequent.

USF says they have installed 37,100 decals to remind people of social distancing, 16,000 signs encouraging social distancing, and installed more than 900 plexiglass shields to try and prevent the spread of the virus.

“Our campuses look quite a bit different this fall than they have in previous semesters,” Freeman said.

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