Photo Credits: Justin Han / Aggie File. Students ride their bikes along the Tercero housing area.
Student Housing and Dining Services adjust operations for Spring Quarter
In an effort to reduce campus density following public health announcements for COVID-19, Student Housing and Dining Services encouraged students living on campus to return to their permanent residence if feasible and offered Spring Quarter housing refunds.
According to Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Housing, Dining, and Divisional Operations Michael Sheehan, 85% of residence hall students chose to cancel their Spring Quarter contracts.
In order to receive the full Spring Quarter refund, students had to terminate their contract online and move out of student housing by March 25. Any student who moved out after that date received a prorated refund based on a daily rate. Financial aid packages were not affected for those who chose to terminate their Spring Quarter contracts to receive housing refunds.
Student Housing residents received the announcement regarding the deadlines and options to move out before finals week.
“I know for some individuals it wasn’t that much time, just because decisions about what would happen next quarter and such were told to us around finals week,” Jonathan Kha, a first-year residence hall student, said. “That gave little time or created a hassle for them if they lived long-distance […] or had little time to say goodbye to friends and such.”
Kha said he initially planned to stay on-campus for Spring Quarter, given that living at home would be a hassle for his learning environment and his financial aid package covered most of his housing costs anyway.
“However, when they provided information that certain services would be closed and that housing would be fully refunded if moved out by a certain date, I did feel an immense amount of pressure because of the amount of money that was going to be offered to me if I were to live off-campus, benefitting me a lot as a low-income student,” Kha said.
Kha moved out of the residence halls on March 25. For the remaining students, Student Housing and Dining Services had to increase their safety measures to follow public health directives.
After Yolo County issued a Shelter-in-Place Order on March 18, the university announced the move to “Suspended Operations” in which all non-critical functions, activities and facilities may be suspended.
On March 19, the State of California issued a Stay at Home Order. On March 20, Student Housing and Dining released a message that residents who chose to stay in student housing for Spring Quarter may be required to move to another room “to consolidate students to one area for operational efficiency, to help support Social Distancing Requirements, or to provide a safe, isolated space for students that may fall ill.”
“For the remaining residents, we have been very direct regarding the need to reduce density while also consolidating space,” Sheehan said. “The process of moving residents is just beginning. During the process, we are working with Student Health and Counseling Services to engage remaining students to assess their current health. If residents are presenting any symptoms, Student Health and Counseling Services will ask that the student be given special accommodation within an isolation space.”
Sheehan explained that dining operations have implemented significant measures directed by Yolo County Health and the State of California to ensure resident and staff safety.
Programmatic changes include an Elevated Sanitation Protocol using a diluted bleach solution to disinfect all non-food surfaces; disinfecting high traffic areas with the use of bleach on an hourly basis including door knobs, bathroom areas and railings; closing all campus coffee and restaurant services; omitting all seating options; moving to a full service to-go format with modified hours of operation in the Dining Commons and implementing social distancing point-of-sale and queuing lines with 6-foot indicated spacing.
Sick tray service is also offered for students, which allows a fellow resident to visit the Dining Commons and request to pick up a meal for them. Meal plans were also adjusted to a “block plan” with 200 swipes and $200 worth of Aggie Cash for all remaining students.
As for resident advisors, Sheehan said RAs were welcome to return to their position and their rooms or resign if they so chose to.
“For those returning [RAs], we have adjusted their responsibilities to promote social distancing and RAs will not be conducting any rounds or providing any group social programs,” Sheehan said. “RAs will be an online resource to residents as needed and also assisting the department with various small projects as needed.”
All Residential Academic Centers, Residential Academic Center tutoring, RA programs, recreation rooms and residence hall IM sports have been cancelled. Staff on-call services, area service desks with limited check-out equipment and computer centers, however, are still available to students.
Written by: Graschelle Fariñas Hipolito — firstname.lastname@example.org