Residence halls to return to semi-normalcy this fall

Elizabeth Taylor, Editor-in-Chief

Many students are taking advantage of a grant which helps cover the cost of using a double room as a single room for the 2021-22 school year.

Eastern’s housing and dining received this federal grant to allow students who are concerned about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to have their own rooms.

Mark Hudson, the executive director of housing and dining services, said that around twice as many students took that option this year than usual.

“We traditionally have about 400 students who request and pay for doubles as singles every semester, and at last count we had about 800,” Hudson said. “I think it’s a good thing.”

Many things in the residence and dining halls will look more like they did before the pandemic, but some safety measures will still be in place.

“I feel like this is a big transition year as we’re moving from full-blown COVID, trying to figure everything out day by day, to now when we understand a lot more, and it’s kind of getting in our rear-view mirror, but it’s obviously still a prevalent issue that we need to deal with,” Hudson said.

Hudson said that especially for students who are fully vaccinated, things should feel mostly normal.

Since the concern for COVID-19 transmission from surfaces has relaxed, building service workers will not be performing the level of sanitization they were during the height of the pandemic. However, they will still follow the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations for cleaning.

Students will also have to schedule a move-in time for the beginning of the semester.

Prior to the pandemic, students were able to move in any time during the few days prior to classes, but specific times were required to keep families spread out to avoid transmission during the height of the pandemic.

Housing and dining employees observed that the structure actually made the move-in process run more smoothly.

“It’s interesting, the lessons that we’ve learned from COVID that we feel might be helpful going forward,” Hudson said. “We can pace people out a little better and the elevators don’t have as long of lines or anything like that. The idea is that the whole process is a little more even.”

During the pandemic, the time slots were relatively specific, down to the half-hour in which the student needed to arrive. Now, students just need to pick the day they’ll move in and whether they’ll arrive in the morning or afternoon.

Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at [email protected]