By Brian Howard
Florida A&M University (FAMU) announced a campus-wide curfew designed to deter large after-hours student gatherings that can cause clusters of COVID-19 cases.
The curfew is effective on Saturday until further notice and comes as more than 1,000 students have moved into residence halls in anticipation of the start of fall semester classes. University officials said students risk being suspended or expelled for violating the rules designed to ensure campus safety.
“The entire FAMU community is extremely concerned by the national trend of students not adhering to mask/social distancing policies enacted by their respective institutions and local government mandates, including here at FAMU,” said Dean of Students Bomani Spell in a Friday letter to students.
“We are aware of large impromptu and planned gatherings on and off campus by FAMU students who are using social media to spread the intent to blatantly violate Leon County’s mandate on large gatherings and FAMU’s COVID-19 conduct enforcement procedures.”
According to the rules, students must be in their assigned resident hall from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on all weekdays (Monday-Thursday) and from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on the weekend (Friday-Sunday).
In the event of extenuating circumstances, students must alert their respective resident hall director immediately if they need to leave during curfew. University officials insist the curfew is to prevent large gatherings/parties on campus or in the Tallahassee community and not to restrict student movement.
Failure to adhere to the COVID-19 enforcement procedures would result in immediate suspension from university housing, as well as the possibility of disciplinary probation, suspension and or expulsion from the school.
The University requires face coverings in all buildings; gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited; gatherings of 10 individuals or fewer must be in a space that allows for physical distancing of 6 feet or more.
Spell warned that the risks of being careless are grave.
“If these guidelines are not followed and there is an increased spike in COVID-19 cases, the University may have to consider its operational procedures and re-opening plans for the remainder of the semester,” he wrote. “The University mandate is important to ensure the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff members during this pandemic as FAMU looks to continue to “Protect the FAMUly.”’