ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Flagler College in St. Augustine, like many colleges, is keeping track of its COVID-19 cases.
As of Friday afternoon, 29 students have tested positive at the school in the last 11 days for a student population that’s roughly 2,300.
All of the patients who tested positive for the virus are isolating whether they live on or off campus.
Dr. Sandra Miles is the Vice President of Student Affairs at Flagler College. She said, "I was nervous there would be a huge spike, and it doesn’t look like that for our campus."
Flagler College is in somewhat of a unique situation. It is spread out around downtown St. Augustine.
The main campus is across the street from City Hall. Thousands of tourists walk or ride by the campus buildings every day.
Miles agreed that is accurate to say downtown St. Augustine is a small space, and that in this siutation, there is a possibility for faster spread. "I think it’s completely fair that a resident of St. Augustine would be concerned," she said.
She added that school administrators are trying to help students understand they are not just residents of Flagler College, but also of St. Augustine.
"In the information we give out, we also talk about what it means to go out to dinner downtown, walking down St. George Street," Miles said. "And we say 'this is what responsible behavior looks like.'"
Flagler College requires face masks or coverings, even outside.
Carol Branson is the school's Vice President of Marketing and Communications. She said, "They are wearing masks and asking others to do so."
Some classes are all online. Classrooms have been redesigned to allow for social distancing. Other spaces on campus have even been turned into classrooms such as the solarium and the elegant Flagler Room.
Miles smiled and said, "Now you have students going in and learning biology under these crystal chandeliers! We did what we had to do."
City commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline applauds the steps Flagler College has taken to try to slow the virus transmission.
"Yes, That’s the thing. It spreads," she nodded. She does foresee an increase in case numbers now that Flagler College and the St. Johns County School district have started classes.
Miles added, "I think we’ve approached it in a way that helps our students see that the Flagler family extends beyond our walls."