The Florida Board of Governors touched briefly on plans to reopen campuses for the Fall semester, as well as discussed how they plan to help students find jobs in the post-pandemic economy in a May 5 three-hour long conference call. Here are the highlights.
Return to campus
“We do plan to reintroduce students to campus in the fall,” said Dr. Sally McRorie, Chair of the State University Council of Academic Vice Presidents.
Dr. McRorie opened with an update on the activities and interests of the Council of Academic Vice Presidents. She concluded her remarks with assurances to Governor Charles Lydecker’s question that faculty were safe and not at risk in the plans to continue education virtually over the summer semester and the future reintroduction to students on campuses in the fall.
“We are working on self-identification,” McRorie said. “We want to make sure every faculty member not only feels safe but feels recognized and valued. There are lots of ways they can fulfill their contract and their assignments without putting themselves at enhanced risk.”
A three-pronged approach to a post-pandemic economy
The Florida Board of Governors expressed confidence in emerging from the initial emergency phases of the COVID-19 crisis. Though the impact of COVID-19 was not at the top of the agenda to discuss, the BOG did touch on a few aspects of what the “new normal” will look like and their plans for it.
In an Academic & Workforce Alignment presentation, Emily Sikes and Lauren Loeffler pitched a three-pronged approach to connect students to employers in a post-pandemic economy that might be reminiscent to the 2008 Recession.
“Career centers around the state had to pivot quickly to best support our students, faculty, and employers, and to sustain the missions of our centers,” said Loeffler, the Executive Director of Career Development & Community Engagement at the University of West Florida and representative of the Florida Career Centers. “What began as creating innovative, temporary strategies to get us through the pandemic now look as though they will be part of our new normal during the recovery phase and beyond.”
“With much uncertainty about the future, we are all busy preparing for multiple scenarios, not in the least ways that we will prepare students for a very different world of work,” Loeffler promised. “If the predictions regarding this long recovery phase are true, students will need to be brighter, better, and more prepared than ever before.”
Loeffler went on to outline the three-pronged plan the Career Centers will be using in order to ensure students and graduates will have the experience and connections they need for the possibility of a difficult job market ahead.
The three-prongs are: Internships, career fairs, and employer engagement.
Lost internships in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic has left the future of employment “wildly uncertain,” according to Lauren Loeffler.
Attempts to overcome lost internships have resulted in the creation of micro internships — small projects students can add to their resumes in lieu of traditional internships. USF, FIU, UCF, UNF, and FAU have all collaborated with Parker Dewey to create micro internships as alternatives for students.
Parker Dewey offers a network of college students and graduates short-term, paid professional assignments.
Career fairs are the next prong. A virtual Statewide Job Fair will be held on June 17, hosted by Career Eco. Employers ability to hire will shrink, as it once did in the 2008 Recession, and so attending job fairs where employers who are able to hire will give students and graduates a leg-up in the field.
Finally, employer engagement is the last prong Loeffler presented. Employer engagement means virtually connecting students and employers, coaching employers on virtual interview options, and hosting company information sessions. Students are not the only ones who will be navigating how to find jobs in the post-pandemic economy, Loeffler explained. Employers will also need help figuring out how they interview and hire in the social distance era.
The future of ACT/SAT
There have not been administrations of the ACT or SAT tests in the months since the coronavirus pandemic, but that will be changing soon.
“One recent discussion has been around the availability of standardized testing,” Chancellor Marshall Criser said. “The good news in this area is this is something that every day gives us a little better information and a little better good news on it.”
Criser shared that those applying for admissions to any of the twelve institutions within the State University System this Fall can expect future testing dates while admissions officers and universities determine the possibility of flexibility in receiving college entrance exam scores.
“The College Board, which administers the SAT test, indicates that they are planning to be able to provide in-person testing subject to whatever the protocols are at the time, but their goal is to provide in-person testing in August, October, November, and December, and they are looking at an additional test date in September with some discussion about an online test, if necessary,” said Criser. “The ACT is planning to offer in-person tests on June 13 and July 18 and already have a regular schedule for September, October, and December.”
“We are working closely with the universities and with those who are responsible for admissions to determine if these additional tests dates and perhaps some flexibility on our end as to when test scores are due from students will work to a solution. I hope to have an update for you in the near future, but I just wanted to send the message out for those who are wondering about what the status will be with standardized testing. We believe that we will have a plan that lets our students know, not only in Florida especially, but all students looking at our universities, that they are welcome to the State University System in Florida and that we’re working closely to make sure we have a path and a plan for them as they apply for our institutions.”
The Board of Governors expects to meet again remotely on June 23 with the hopes that it will be their last remote meeting.
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