UCs explore options for reduced density in residence halls for fall based on local impacts of COVID-19

UCs explore options for reduced density in residence halls for fall based on local impacts of COVID-19

Photo Credits: Quinn Spooner / Aggie File. Yosemite Hall at the Cuarto housing area at UC Davis. UC Davis expects to only make a third of dorms available to students in Fall 2020 due to COVID-19.

Some campuses could reopen one-third to one-half of dorms

Some UC campuses are exploring an array of scenarios to reduce density within housing and dining facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including potentially only reopening one-third to one-half of dorm rooms this fall. 

UC President Janet Napolitano said campuses will first be required to satisfy systemwide guidelines to ensure public health and safety, with any reopening being greatly reduced, according to a Los Angeles Times article. Decisions on Fall Quarter may come in June or July. 

“During this very dynamic time, UC Davis is striving to have both in-person and remote classes available for Fall Quarter,” said UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor of Housing, Dining and Divisional Operations Michael Sheehan. “We don’t know what directives may be given by the state, county and UC. Taking all of this into consideration, we are all hoping for the best while preparing for multiple scenarios.” 

Sheehan said Student Housing and Dining Services is continuing to plan for fall occupancy, although occupancy density is still to be determined. According to the UC Davis Student Housing and Dining Services FAQ webpage, UC Davis guarantees on-campus housing to all incoming first-years, transfer students and second-year returning students, but it may withdraw or amend this guarantee in the case of public health guidance or other extenuating circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The strategies and safety measures around occupancy will be developed in collaboration with campus leaders, campus health professionals and Yolo County Public Health,” Sheehan said. “If the decision is made to reduce density within the residence halls, then we will spread out the beds throughout all properties. This will reduce circulation in common spaces such as entry ways, lounges, hallways and bathrooms.” 

Other UC campuses are also discussing possibilities for safe reopenings in the fall.

“Each campus is undertaking their own scenario planning, as are we,” UC Merced Interim Chancellor Nathan Brostrom said in an email. “Occupancy at 50% is just one of the many scenarios we are looking at.” 

UC Merced Assistant Vice Chancellor of Marketing, Public Relations and Signature Events Jim Chiavelli said every campus in the country is in the position of managing a flood of data sources and predictions trying to make decisions that are timely, but not rushed. He also noted that few campuses are comfortable making firm pronouncements for fall. 

“Certainly we are not yet there, and, as the chancellor said, every campus is planning its own path forward, based in part on local impacts,” Chiavelli said. 

Written by: Graschelle Fariñas Hipolito — campus@theaggie.org

1 Comment on this Post

  1. Dunlop

    Screw that, shut down the dorms entirely and have freshmen attend online-only for the Fall quarter. The super-spreader potential of a bunch of partying freshman cooped up in the same buildings, using the same showers and etc, is probably the most blatant you’ll find on this or any other campus. It is the lowest hanging fruit for covid prevention on campus.

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