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FGCU hosts move-in day, turns focus to student impact on COVID-19 in community

Monday was move-in day for students at Florida Gulf Coast University, and with that comes a new freedom for many teens, which brings up some concerns about community spread of COVID-19.

We asked community members near FGCU’s campus if they are concerned about an uptick and spread of the coronavirus near them due to the influx of college students in town.

With the start of the fall semester, students will shop, eat and share the same spots as community members.

“I think it’s a little bit scary,” said Wes Parkhurst, who lives near FGCU. “To think they’re all gonna be there. They are young kids and most of us don’t learn until we get older.”

But these college students spend money. That’s good for Julie Smith, a mother of two children who works near the university.

“I think it’s good. I think it’s good for business to get back going,” Smith said. “I think, with the right protection and the right measures, we can make it a success.”

Some parents promise their children will do the right thing. Brad and Alicia Mullen’s daughter is entering her freshman year at FGCU. She has to practice safety guidelines because she is in a high-risk group.

“Make sure, as you do activities as every college student’s going to do, that you’re using as much caution as possible,” Brad said. “Carry around your hand sanitizer. Make sure you have masks available.”

“We have fear of, if it starts to go around the dorms, how are we as parents going to handle that at home?” Alicia said.

Regardless of the increase in the college student population in the community, Smith said she plans to keep doing what she has been to stay safe.

“I’m gonna be cautious, like I always have been while they’re here or while they’re not,” Smith said.

Parkhurst said faculty is also a factor as the school year begins.

“You’ve gotta worry about not only them but the instructors,” Parkhurst said.

FGCU did not allow moms and dads to visit students after drop-off Monday. But families can, of course, still meet up off campus. Business owners hope these students provide a boost to the local economy, a boost they say they need.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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