Residence Hall Updates: Returning Students – June 19, 2020
We are reaching out to returning resident students to update you on residence hall plans for 2020-2021 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Residence Life and Housing staff has worked hard to determine how FSU's residence halls may be best configured to support students who want to live on campus within the guidance and direction received through development of the University’s plans to repopulate our campus. Assuming we are able to proceed within the Commonwealth’s reopening plan, we do anticipate operating with a significantly reduced residence hall capacity for Fall 2020.
This communication will cover the following important information related to returning student housing and the University’s COVID-19 response:
- Residence Hall Adaptations and Policies
- Changes in Campus Programs and Services
- Returner Housing Assignments
- Housing Eligibility and Criteria
- Community Commitment
- Pre-Existing Medical Considerations, notify offices by July 1st
- Housing Withdrawal, Complete by July 6th to avoid $300 deposit/cancelation charge
Please review this information carefully because the pandemic has necessitated many changes to familiar programs and campus norms.
Residence Hall Adaptations and Policies
It is important to recognize that there are health and safety risks associated with interacting with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. While we cannot anticipate, much less eliminate all risks, a number of residence hall policies and adaptations are planned to support public health and reduce risks. At this time, these include:
- The required use of face coverings in all residence hall public areas.
- There is a no guest policy in the residence halls to limit the number of people entering each This includes guests who live in other halls.
- Elevator occupancy limits will be in place. Use of stairwells will be strongly encouraged for residents medically able to use stairs.
- Social distancing guidelines will be in place, and there will be limitations on gatherings.
- Certain residence hall lounges and common areas will be closed to allow staff to concentrate sanitation efforts in high touch/traffic areas.
- A reduction in the number of residents in areas with shared community bathrooms. In these areas most residents will be assigned to rooms without roommates.
- Security desks will implement a no-touch self-scan process and plexiglass will be placed between SDAs and scanners.
- Soap dispensers are being added to all community bathrooms.
- Certain common areas and stairwells will have directional indicators directing foot traffic.
- Residents will be asked to provide emergency travel plans and off-campus treatment and isolation plans in case the halls are required to close or in case of illness or medically recommended self-quarantine.
- The maximum number of persons allowed to be present in any residence hall bedroom will be limited to the number of occupants plus 1 person. Suites will be limited to the number of occupants plus 2 additional persons.
- Community bathroom use will be restricted to a designated number of users at any given time and use will be limited to floor members. In some areas schedules will be created to help provide predictable shower access given lower occupancy limits.
Changes in Campus Programs and Services
You should also be aware that other campus programs and services will have adaptations, that new policies will be enacted, and that some programs may be altered or temporarily suspended. This list is not exhaustive:
- Face coverings and social distancing practices will be implemented across campus.
- Dining services modifications. The pandemic will require many modifications to the campus dining program. Expect to see increased "to go" options, elimination of self-service stations, and limited spaced seating to meet social spacing guidelines among other changes.
- Fitness center, gym, fitness classes and intramurals. Availability is being reviewed. If/when available, programs may be adjusted or limited.
- The Esports Gaming Lounge will be closed until further notice.
- Transportation shuttles will have decreased capacity to support social distancing.
- The McCarthy Center game room will be closed until further notice.
- Seating areas in common spaces across campus will be spaced out or have furnishings temporarily removed to promote social spacing.
- Guidelines limiting campus programs and events are currently under review and subject to change, it is likely most meetings will take place remotely.
Returner Housing Assignments
While we plan to provide housing for as many students as we can while mitigating the public health risks related to COVID-19, we anticipate that we may not be able to provide housing to all students who want to live on campus this fall. We plan to review and adjust as many returner housing assignments as possible before assigning new resident students to housing.
In residence hall areas with shared community bathrooms we will have significantly decreased occupancy (generally one person to a room) to decrease the number of residents sharing community bathrooms. If policies and public health guidance allow, it is possible occupancy may be expanded in these rooms at some point during the academic year.
If you are a returning resident with a room selection roommate scheduled to live in an area with shared community bathrooms, you will be contacted (on a space available basis) to see if you are interested in being reassigned with your roommate to a room/suite with a private bathroom. Otherwise, one or both roommates will likely be reassigned to another residence hall space without a roommate.
In living areas with shared private bathrooms (suites and/or conjoined rooms in West, Miles Bibb and Linsley Halls) residents will be allowed to live in “household units” with roommates. Household units mean that the residents in these units will commit to live as a household (similar to groups living in apartments and houses off campus) and will be expected to manage health and cleaning precautions together within their room/suite.
If you are a returning resident in a conjoined room or suite with a shared private bathroom, you will be contacted to see if you are interested in maintaining your assignment with your roommate(s) in a household unit arrangement. If you and your roommate are not interested in living in a household unit, you may be reassigned to a space alone in a hall with shared community bathroom on a space available basis.
Given the University’s significantly reduced housing capacity and space usage constraints returning residents may be reassigned to other residence hall spaces at the discretion of the Office of Residence Life and Housing.
Housing Eligibility and Criteria
If the number of students who wish to live on campus continues to exceed the available space, the University may be required to cancel Residence Hall License Agreements and housing reservations. If this becomes necessary, we will carefully review eligibility and priority consideration criteria for housing. This criteria will include (a) students with a full-time course load; (b) undergraduate students; (c) completion of all immunization and health record requirements with the Health Center; (d) the number of classes meeting on campus enrolled in by the student; (e) internship or student teaching location in proximity to home address; (f) distance from campus; (g) students with emergency travel and care plans; (h) students in good social and financial standing and (i) documented housing insecurities.
If we are allowed to repopulate the campus as planned, it is important to realize that spikes in COVID19 cases in the state or on campus may jeopardize our ability to remain on campus. Accordingly, we need the commitment of all residents to respect campus policies and adaptations related to public health and to personally follow everyday preventative actions. Residents living as part of a household unit will undermine the spirit of this arrangement if they regularly are close to others in multiple household units. Residents are asked to carefully consider when and how they expose themselves to others on and off campus because such behavior could increase risks for others. We ask that during the 16 weeks of the semester you limit travel and excessive mixing with others – particularly without taking protective measures and social distancing – in interest of your academic community.
It is also important for all members of the community to remember that there are students – including some residents -who have pre-existing medical conditions placing them at greater risk for COVID19 illness. Similarly, faculty, staff, and those close to your friends and neighbors may also have increased risk. We ask all RAMS to act in a way that shows we care about one another’s well-being.
Pre-Existing Medical Considerations
Returning residents with pre-existing medical conditions placing them at greater risk for COVID19 are encouraged to speak with their doctor(s), assess risks, and make a personal determination about whether living in a shared residential community is in your best interests at this time. If you decide you want to remain a resident student please provide documentation and advise the Health Center and Laurie Carr, Residence Life Assignment Coordinator by July 1, 2020. We will evaluate available assignments which may mitigate, but cannot eliminate, risks. If you need accommodations beyond room assignment, please contact Disability Services.
We know there may be factors which might impact your continued interest in on-campus housing. We have heard from students that number of your classes meeting in person on campus, hybrid, or remotely may be an important factor. Approximately 30% of courses will be offered fully or partially on-campus during the fall. A preliminary list of these courses will be made available on the FSU website by June 26th. Academic Affairs has prioritized those courses that are better suited to an in-person experience. We do want you to consider all factors and make the best decision for you and your family under these challenging circumstances. Accordingly, we have extended the date for withdrawal from housing, without penalty, for any COVID-19 related reason to July 6th. Returning residents may withdraw from housing through the myResLife portal, accessible from myFramingham, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org from your FSU student email address. The housing withdrawal must be completed by July 6th or you will be responsible for the normal $300 housing reservation deposit and cancellation charge.
In closing, we understand that this pandemic has disrupted the way our world works including your university experience. We are committed to working to keep our residence halls open to as many students as we can while mitigating public health risks for the campus community. While this fall will be different than other semesters, we believe that the on campus housing provides students important access to in-person academic programs and the ability to make connections with other students. Please contact our office if you have any questions,
Glenn Cochran, Ph.D.