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Student Town Hall addresses fall semester concerns

Student Town Hall addresses fall semester concerns

July 10, 2020 at 9:00am

With a spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida, and new federal regulations affecting international students, there is a lot of uncertainty as FIU prepares to slowly re-populate campus on Aug. 24.

This week, FIU held its first of a series of student town halls to address concerns and engage in an ongoing conversation about the Fall semester. The event was moderated by Elizabeth Bejar, senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, and featured a panel of university leaders.

More than 1,000 students and individuals joined via Zoom and Facebook live to learn about the university’s latest updates and ask their own specific questions.

“Student success is our priority at FIU,” said FIU President, Mark B. Rosenberg. “We want to ensure, most of all, that your needs are met and that your return in the fall—whether remotely, in-person or in some combination of the two—is smooth and productive.”

Re-population plan:

In an effort to begin re-populating the university as safely as possible, the university has created the Panthers Protecting Panthers plan.

As part of the Panthers Protecting Panthers plan, all students, faculty and staff will be required to fill out a screening questionnaire each day prior to coming onto campus. The P3 app developed by FIU IT is still currently in the beta testing stage and will be used as a tool to educate the FIU community on COVID-19.

Class offerings:

Recognizing the need for flexibility, the university will offer four course modalities.

“Of about over 6,000 courses that will be offered this fall, roughly 1,700 of them will be available in in-person settings or in a blended setting,” said Kenneth Furton, FIU's provost, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “The remaining courses will be available in different modes of delivery.”  

There are four new ways to take classes this fall:

  1. In-person. This is the classic classroom experience. The class meets in a classroom at scheduled days and times––only now there will be changes in classroom layout to accommodate physical distancing. 
  2. Hybrid. Hybrid courses meet in a classroom only some of the time (with classroom layout changes for physical distancing), while students do much of coursework online. 
  3. Remote. A virtual version of the traditional classroom. This means everyone in the class meets virtually at scheduled days and times. Attendance is required. 
  4. Fully Online. These courses take place exclusively on Canvas. While students don’t have to show up at a scheduled time or place, they will need to keep up with the activities and due dates. Distance learning fees apply.

Students taking in-person classes will find that classrooms will now feature 6-foot distancing between seating. Additionally, students will be provided with a face mask which will be mandatory and must be worn during classes and throughout campus.  

“We also have very elaborate procedures in place relative to screening and testing and tracing and disinfecting to ensure your safety while you’re in these courses,” said Furton.

For additional FAQs regarding classes and academics, click here  

Need help, AskCharlie

Advisors and career counselors are available remotely and will be working with students throughout the fall term.

However, for students who have questions, concerns or don’t know who to reach out to, Charlie Andrews, the assistant vice president for Academic and Career Success, will now serve as the point person to guide students.

To streamline the process, FIU has developed where students can post their questions to Charlie or browse through the site’s specific COVID-19 resources as well as FAQs related to the fall semester.

Student events and programs

The university will continue to host student programing in a virtual environment including Week of Welcome, Homecoming, club fairs and Greek recruitment.


FIU Housing and Residential Life, and Bayview will welcome students back this fall. Steps to promote healthy living and physical distancing are being taken. Students can expect virtual programs and activities, enhanced cleaning, and a staff who is ready to make this the best experience possible for students living on campus with the limitations caused by the pandemic.

For additional FAQs regarding housing, click here  

International Students

As for how new federal guidance will affect international students, FIU staff is available to offer students the support they need to be properly enroll for the fall so that they can remain in compliance as an international student with immigration.

“We are committed to you. We’ve been committed to international students and international student development since our very first opening and that remains unchanged,” said Bejar.

International students with concerns about their enrollment can reach the Office of International Students and Scholar Services either through their virtual office or a virtual appointment. Students are encouraged to visit, which contains useful information and explanations on how immigration regulations are interpreted and apply to international students.

Additionally, a virtual informational session addressing International students’ questions surrounding the Fall 2020 semester will take place Friday, July 10, at noon.

Students may register to join via Zoom at: (Webinar password: 174640) or join live on the FIU Facebook page: Florida International University 


The first Student Town Hall received an overwhelming response and more than 300 questions were answered during the virtual event. 

For a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions and answers, click here

To watch the Town Hall in its entirety, click here

The next Town Hall will occur on the week of July 20. Additional details will be shared in the coming days.