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FSU threatens suspensions for students flouting its COVID-19 guidelines

Byron Dobson
Tallahassee Democrat
Image from pool party at Catalyst

Florida State University President John Thrasher has an ultimatum for students flouting the university's COVID-19 precautions:

Do it again and you're suspended. 

“I want to reiterate that violations to our health and safety protocols, both on and off campus, are subject to serious disciplinary action,” Thrasher said Friday in a campus message.

More:Message from President John Thrasher (via FSU)

“Students who endanger the community with actions such as hosting or attending a large party or gathering will be subject to suspension."

He also announced new policies regarding football game days would be forthcoming. That comes after scores of what appeared to be student fans were caught on camera maskless during last Saturday's Georgia Tech game. 

More:Images of fans not wearing masks at FSU football home opener draws criticism

Florida State University President John Thrasher

Thrasher's warning also comes as hundreds of FSU students are testing positive for  coronavirus, with a 12.9% positivity rate for test results through Sept. 11, according to the university.

He added: "Moreover, from this point forward, for any student who tests positive and is ordered to isolate: Socializing outside of your residence, working out at the Leach Center or engaging in activities such as going to parties may result in your suspension from Florida State University for a minimum of one academic semester."

The FSU Police Department, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office are partnering to monitor bars, restaurants and off-campus residences where federal and university guidelines are not being followed, he said.

Law enforcement also will be targeting residence halls and Greek housing.

Florida State University set-up a COVID-19 testing site inside the exhibition hall located within the Tucker Civic Center on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.

“Effective immediately, anyone who does not follow the appropriate safety guidelines in any university facility will be required to leave that facility. And next week, I will announce new policies regarding football game days,” Thrasher said.

Thrasher’s memo follows multiple social media reports of students and guests holding large off-campus parties without practicing social distancing or wearing masks.

This week, Leon County commissioners admonished the behavior of those attending last Saturday’s home football opener, where crowds of students were shown packed together and not wearing masks.

And Thrasher said he is issuing “an urgent call to action” in calling for students to follow safe practice guidelines established by the university to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on FSU’s campus and in the community.

“I am proud and appreciative of all of you who are wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and showing respect to your fellow FSU family members, but the actions of some are jeopardizing the health and safety of our entire community,” he said.

Screen shot of Saturday's game against Georgia Tech at Doak Campbell Stadium.

“Let me be clear – these behaviors are hindering our ability to continue the in-person experience this fall and the traditions we all cherish.”

Thrasher said students who continue to violate university rules are putting the university in jeopardy.

“We must demonstrate our commitment to each other and this great university by doing everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Thrasher said.

“The choices you make don’t just impact you. They affect your friends, families, professors, FSU staff and the Tallahassee community at large, as well as our ability to hold in-person classes and future events and provide campus services.”

The back story

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

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