ISU shares changes in student housing, dining

In response to COVID-19, Indiana State University is taking several steps to keep students safe in housing and dining halls as it prepare for the 2020-21 academic year.

Among the changes: Students must have an appointment to check in to a residence hall; there will be more single rooms; and there will be no self-service stations in dining halls, including beverage stations.

With COVID-19 increasing in most states right now, Andy Morgan, interim vice president for student affairs, acknowledges controlling the spread poses challenges and many factors are out of the university's control.

"For every institution, whether it's a grade school, high school and universities, it's going to be a challenge," he said. 

At the university level, a student might leave campus and go to church, a mall, a house party, or even home —  and come in contact with someone who has COVID.

"We'll try our best. It will be a lot of self responsibility and accountability and we'll provide that education so students can be more responsible," he said.

One of the biggest changes is that student arrival to campus to move into a residence hall will be by appointment. In the past, a large group would show up at once. This way, "We can manage social distancing," Morgan said.

Those moving in will sign up for a date/time and have a two-hour window to move in.

In other changes, new and returning students' arrival will be extended over several days, from Sunday, Aug. 9, to Saturday, Aug. 15 for new students and Monday, Aug. 17, for returning students.

All students and those helping them (limited to two other people) will be required to wear face masks in the parking lots and while in the residence halls.

There will be no move-in crew volunteers to assist this year.

Under housing changes, residential life is taking steps to reduce the density of each residence hall, and more than 300 single rooms have been identified for incoming first-year students.

Also, students who live on floors with pod-style bathrooms, such as at Sycamore Towers, will be assigned a bathroom. A pod-style bathroom might normally be used by about eight to 10 students.

Students with a chronic illness that may put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 should submit ADA paperwork to be considered for a medical single room. 

Also, guests will be restricted to the lower lobby level. "That is a big change," Morgan said. Friends or families who visit won't be allowed on the other floors.

That is consistent with what other universities are doing, he said.

In addition, masks will be required in common areas, hallways and bathrooms. 

As far as dining halls, the big change will involve no self service, both for food and drinks, Morgan said. All serving stations will be attended by uniformed staff wearing and using appropriate PPE.

There will be a lot more cleaning that takes place, and tables will be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

"There will be more meal to-go options as well," he said.

 As far as enforcement, ISU has a Code of Student Conduct, but it also will do a lot more education, Morgan said. "This is a learning process for everyone." 

Adhering to the new safety measures keeps everyone safe, including roommates, floormates, instructors and family, he said. 

More information about remote learning after Thanksgiving and what that means for room and board rates, returning to campus and checking out of residence halls and apartments for mid-year graduates will be coming in mid-July.

For full details about housing/dining changes, go to https://bit.ly/2ZrKodc

 Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at sue.loughlin@tribstar.com Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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