ATU releases plans to keep residential students healthy in fall

Local News

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas Tech’s Department of Residence Life has created a pandemic recovery plan that helps to maintain safe living spaces for the students at the university during the pandemic.

“We were fortunate in our student housing planning for fall 2020 to benefit from a head start provided by the communicable diseases policy that we adopted several years ago,” said Dr. Keegan Nichols, ATU vice president for student affairs.

“Preventing, mitigating, and recovering from communicable diseases is an essential aspect of an effective student housing operation, and we are fortunate to have an outstanding group of full-time professional staff and part-time student staff who are thoroughly trained in and dedicated to providing a safe, clean and healthy living environment. We will fulfill our civic responsibility to limit the spread of COVID-19 by educating our staff and students about preventative measures, making data-driven decisions about best practices for safety, and planning ahead in the event that we have suspected or confirmed cases among our residential population.”

The Residence Life Department has been working on this plan throughout summer.

They say that the university’s student housing facilities have been sanitized and prepared. The university residential students have the option to either drop off their stuff in their on-campus room, with no contact and by-appointment basis. This will be happening from July 31 to August 8.

They say the appointments will be spaced out for proper social distancing and there will be enhanced disinfection of surfaces that are touched a lot, such as door handles and handrails.

Students are allowed to bring two people with them. You will have to visit www.atu.edu/pandemicrecovery in order to participate in the drop-off process.

Those who do participate in the drop-off will be able to move into their rooms at the beginning of August 15.

Those who do not participate in the drop-off will move into their housing at assigned times on August 10th through the 14th. Those students will be offered a centralized, contactless drive through check-ins.

The entrances and hallways at the housing facilities will be directed with one-way traffic in and out of the buildings.

Inside the on-campus housing facilities, there will be occupancy limits. Those limits will be posted in common areas such as laundry rooms, kitchens, and lounges. Computer labs and study areas will have physical dividers or will remain closed if social distancing is not possible.

All the common areas, including bathrooms, will be cleaned and sanitized with guidelines from the CDC. Residents with suite-style bathrooms will not be allowed to leave their personal items in the shared space once they are done using it.

Each room will also be limited to no more than two people, there will also be limited in-room visitation with other residents in the same building and people from outside the building will not be allowed inside the residence halls or apartments.

All students, including the ones who live on campus, will be required to complete a daily health screening at the outset of any day they will be on campus. They are to wear masks when in a public space and or when you cannot social distance.

“We want to attempt to be educational in our response if and when there are cases of non-compliance,” said Amy Pennington, ATU associate vice president for student affairs, dean of students, and Title IX coordinator. “If a student refuses to comply and is a threat to the health and safety of our university community, the interim suspension will be possible.”

Masks and daily health screenings will be applicable to faculty and staff. If you are a guest on ATU’s campus you are required to wear a mask when in a pubic space or when social distancing cannot happen.

If there is a point where residential students will need to be isolated due to possible exposure of COVID-19, 50 on-campus beds have been put aside for quarantine spaces.

Students who are quarantined will receive their school virtual.

For additional means of building community in a virtual environment, university resident assistants will be assigned a cohort of 25 to 30 students. The assistant will be able to engage with members in regular interactions of their cohort and help discussions that are designed to reinforce the co-curricular programming.

“The interactions between resident assistants and students will be critical in our continuing education effort during the fall 2020 semester,” said Dr. Delton Gordon, ATU associate dean for residence life. “The circumstances of the pandemic will continue to evolve, and we have a responsibility to keep our residential students informed on how to stay safe and healthy. If our residential students are diligent in wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and adhering to the additional protocols we have in place, I believe we will maintain a safe living environment in support of the academic success of our students this fall.”

Students who are scheduled to live in university housing during the fall may send e-mails to housing@atu.edu or call (479) 968-0376 for more information.

Visit www.atu.edu/pandemicrecovery to learn more about COVID-19 mitigation and recovery efforts at Arkansas Tech University.

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