Florida SouthWestern State College Navigates To a Virtual Return for Fall Semester After Ian


Photo by Compare Fibre, Unsplash

Alex McBride, Contributing Writer

On Oct. 12, exactly two weeks after Hurricane Ian, Florida SouthWestern State College reopened its Collier, Charlotte, and Hendry/Glades campuses for students to return to classes. However, FSW’s Lee campus will likely be closed to students for the rest of the fall semester as the campus cleanup and repairs continue.

While FSW’s Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Martin McClinton, wants students to be able to come back to in-person instruction, he acknowledges that student safety takes precedence over everything.

“We want them to be safe,” Dr. McClinton said. “We can’t be putting them into rooms when we’ve got 18-wheelers driving around campus moving generators. We can’t be putting them into rooms that have moldy walls and endanger their health. We have to try to balance everything.”

FSW hopes to allow students who require in-person instruction, such as nursing majors, to return to campus within the next couple of weeks. Besides these few exceptions, all other students are expected to be restricted to online classes until the end of the semester. For students like Lynden Dryzmala, an FSW freshman, this conversion to online classes has been a disappointing obstacle in her first semester of college.

“It felt like this last year, or at least these past few months, life was sort of getting mostly back to normal after COVID,” Dryzmala said. “Then the hurricane hit and now it’s kind of all messed up again.”

While Dryzmala feels that switching to online classes hasn’t been very difficult, the inability to participate in on-campus activities has been discouraging.

“It’s just upsetting that we don’t get the campus experience, especially since I’m a freshman,” Dryzmala said. “It’s one of those things that when it’s taken away you realize how much you actually enjoyed it, so it’s upsetting to not be able to go.”

Having to convert to online classes is a familiar experience for students and faculty alike following the COVID-19 pandemic. While Dr. McClinton admits that having to forgo in-person classes again so soon after COVID-19 is less than ideal, he is grateful for how the previous closures have prepared FSW for events like these.

“One of the advantages of coming into this particular hurricane was that nearly all of the faculty, because they had gone through COVID, had gone through significant amounts of training for online classes.”