DES MOINES, Iowa– With return to learn plans underway, colleges have the extra challenge of determining housing plans for students.
In the spring, universities had little to no time to strategize the best ways to keep students and staff members safe from the coronavirus. This led to students being sent home early for the remainder of the spring semester. However, local schools are learning to adapt to the pandemic and are currently finalizing plans for the upcoming fall semester.
Iowa college students will be returning to the same residence halls but with different procedures.
“We’ll give them a time and ask them to limit the number of people that are helping them move in and then give them only a specific amount of time to do that move in,” Vice President for Student Development at Central College, Carol Williamson said.
Students will still have the option of having roommates, but COVID-19 prevention measures will be in full effect.
“We have decided we’re going to test everyone before they’re allowed to move in,” Director of Residence at Iowa State University, Peter Englin said. “We have limited the occupancy of any of our common spaces to at least half.”
However there’s always a chance a student can catch the coronavirus and schools on the collegiate level are trying to prepare for it all. All schools will have designated isolation spaces on campus for students with the coronavirus or those who have been exposed.
“We have an entire residence hall that we’re holding for self isolation or quarantine in case somebody tests positive and then Marion County Department of Public Health will really do the contact tracing for us,” Williamson said.
A decision all colleges are still debating is whether or not to give out refunds if there’s a statewide outbreak. Vice President for Student Development Planning at Simpson College, Heidi Levine says the determining factor will be when the outbreak occurs.
“If we were right at the point in time that we were planning on wrapping up the semester, because our plan is to end the semester early, then I don’t know that that would make any difference in what we were charging,” Levine said.
Completely closing for some schools, won’t be an option.
“For some of our students this is their permanent home. And for them to be able to continue their education, have access to the internet, you know they need to be on campus. So we’ll continue to provide that on campus housing,” Director of Residence Life at Grandview University, Adam Demers said.
Below is a link to local colleges different COVID-19 mitigation strategies.