On-campus housing for the fall semester has put new regulations in place to keep students safe from COVID-19. Residence Life and Student Affairs sent an email to all students, along with a tweet posted by the official SFA Twitter account, about what students who are wanting to live on-campus can expect.
For students who do not want to live on-campus, the University has temporarily lifted the 60-credit-hour on-campus requirement. They also assure that if students are wanting to room together, that physical distancing is still possible. If students are wary about having a roommate, single-room options are available.
“It depends on how many are coming back this semester,” Director of Residence Life Winston Baker said. “As students make decisions not to come back this semester, or just maybe move off-campus, then that room will become available to be a single space.”
He said that students should check the residence life website regularly to see if there are any available.
“Cancellations and room changes are a normal part of the housing assignment process every year, and I am certain we will be able to accommodate many requests for singles,” Director of Auxiliary Services Carrie Charley said.
Other regulations include staggering move-in times, the reduction of seating in common areas, a full-time custodial staff that will be continually cleaning “common restrooms and high touchpoints,” according to the email, hand-sanitizer offered to students, sneeze guards installed where needed and different visitation guidelines. They also reassure that if a student were to get sick, they will go through immediate testing and be moved to an “offline” building.
“We are still taking three offline this year to determine our next steps in our housing master plan,” Charley said in regard to an offline building being one of the residence halls that were said to be demolished. “Yes, one or two of those halls may be used as potential isolation rooms, if needed.”
Move-in will be similar to the move-out procedure with time slots and two helpers per student. There can only be up to 10 families in the building per hour, and there will be eight days for move-in. In these eight days, four are assigned to first-year students and the other four are assigned to upperclassmen. The new visitation guidelines include one to two visitors per student instead of up to five in the past.
“When you look into social distancing, you got to have fewer people visiting than in the old days,” Baker said. “If you have five or six people, [one] roommate has three people and the other has three, there wouldn’t be that much social distancing in the room. So, we really have to cut that down to lessen that.”
Visitation hours, however, will remain the same.
“We’re going to go all out to make sure that our students are safe, and make sure that students are able to have a positive experience while they are on the campus,” Baker said.
Incoming freshmen Becca Odom said she is ready for the next semester and will live on-campus.
“I was happy that the university was taking steps with everyone’s health in mind,” Odom said. “I already figured that we’d have some new regulations in place, so I wasn’t surprised. But I’m glad they took the initiative to do something.”
Odom does have concerns about how everything will work out and is interested to see if more regulations will have to be put in place if necessary. Her family was also concerned at first with her decision to move on campus, but then eventually supported her decision.
“I’m going to be a music education major, so some of my classes like ensembles would’ve been very difficult or even impossible to do online if I had wanted to,” Odom said.
Plans for reopening the University are still changing, but school officials want to reassure that students who are choosing to live on campus to focus on school are safe.
“Living on campus is an experience that cannot be replicated off-campus,” Charley said. “Even in these difficult times, we have staff who is dedicated to creating a vibrant community – even if we have to keep physically distant, there’s a huge welcoming smile behind the mask.”