Fall normally brings the excitement of starting back to school, whether it’s returning to an elementary school, high school, or college. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of that excitement has been hampered by concerns over health issues. While some colleges have decided to have online only classes, others are conducting classes in person again. All of these universities are taking move-in precautions for COVID-19, to keep their students safe.
Move-in precautions for COVID-19 at most colleges and universities include requirements for wearing masks and maintaining appropriate physical distances from others while on campus. Students moving into residence halls should be prepared for limits on their movement, use of common areas, and guests. In addition, areas of campus that have traditionally been gathering places, such as libraries and student centers, will be closed or have limits in their capacity. Students will find that they are spending a lot more time in their own room than is traditionally the case on campuses throughout the country.
Staggered Move-In Dates
To assist with social distancing needs, many colleges and universities have staggered the move-in dates for their students. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK) set up a portal for students to schedule move-in appointments. The move-in appointment windows are specific to each residence hall. Move-in appointment windows are set in three-hour increments beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. daily.
Breaks and Events Canceled
As students move in, they should be prepared for a non-traditional fall schedule. They should also be prepared to stay for a while, as nonessential travel will be discouraged, particularly travel out of state. Adjusting for the need to stay on campus, most colleges and universities have canceled their fall breaks and will end the fall semester early. Some will end as soon as the Thanksgiving break so students will not be traveling and coming back to campus after that holiday. In addition, traditional fall events such as parent weekend and homecoming celebrations are being canceled or held virtually to reduce the number of visitors on campus during COVID-19.
Summer Preparations for Move-In During COVID-19
In Knoxville, officials at the University of Tennessee have stated they have spent the summer preparing for students to move back in this fall. They are continuing to take precautions as students move in. One UTK student noted that “when we came in, everything was social distanced and we were able to wipe down our own carts and everything.”
Move-in precautions for COVID-19 and continuing precautions throughout the fall semester include students being required to perform daily health checks, including answering questions about symptoms and exposure.
Move-In Requirements at UTK
Students moving in at UTK are required to complete a self-screening no more than two hours prior to arriving to campus on their scheduled move-in day. In addition, everyone is required to wear face coverings while inside the residence halls.
During the move-in process, there are luggage carts and moving bins available to students, as well as disinfectant wipes for use to wipe the carts and bins in between use. Instructions and signage are posted at the entrance to the residence halls, as are steps to complete the move-in process.
Officials at UTK have noted that they made significant financial investments over the summer to protect the health and safety of the university community. About 55 percent of courses offered this semester will include some face-to-face instruction.
Several other adjustments have also been made, including reducing housing and meal plan rates by 10 percent to adjust for the shorter academic calendar. In addition, the on-campus residency requirement for first-year students has been waived for the 2020–21 academic year.
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