Residence halls reopen with new rules

With the residence halls reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Truman State University Residence Life has made changes and new regulations in an effort to quell the spread on campus. 

The new regulations ResLife has set for the semester include, wearing a mask in all public areas of the building and not bringing non-Truman students into the residence halls. All ResLife activities will be socially distanced and halls will be disinfected multiple times a day. 

Residence Life Director Jamie Van Boxel said Hall Directors, Community Coordinators and Student Advisors underwent two weeks of training each to ensure residents have a good experience. That experience will shift as the community learns more about COVID-19.

“Everything that we do, and our staff will do, to engage with our residences has to happen with the framework of wellness and health,” Van Boxel said. 

Van Boxel said all community spaces in residence halls, like lounges and study bubbles, have signs stating a maximum occupancy based on how many people can properly socially distance in the area. Activities are going to look very different than what returning students will be used to, he said. 

The residence halls will receive their regular deep cleaning daily, Van Boxel said. Additionally, housekeeping will disinfect high touch areas, like elevator buttons and door handles, more often than they used to. 

SAs are also being asked to disinfect high touch areas in their houses seven days a week and SAs on duty will be asked to disinfect high touch areas in community spaces. 

“The reality is we are hopeful all of our on campus residences will take seriously all the COVID-19 precautions from mask wearing to maintaining social distance to using disinfectant [in public areas],” Van Boxel said. 

Van Boxel said he is hoping students stick to the regulations and recommendations without need for residence life staff to enforce them. 

“Even if you are confident that you are healthy and would likely not experience significant distress with a COVID-19 infection, please consider that some of those around you could have pre-existing conditions or be immunocompromised,” the residence life website reads. “Following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines contributes to the health and wellness of our entire University community.” 

However, if an on-campus resident tests positive for COVID-19 there will be no community wide notification to those living around them. Van Boxel said that would be breaching laws and policies on privacy and that ResLife respects a student’s right to keeping their medical history confidential. 

If residents test positive, they will need to let ResLife staff know, so they can arrange the appropriate isolation procedures. The medical information related to the isolation will not go beyond the small number of staff members, Van Boxel said. 

This semester ResLife offered more single rooms and double room buyouts to both returning residents and freshmen. 

Van Boxel said he was fairly surprised the number of requests for singles or buyouts hasn’t been higher, especially among first year students. 

“I think first year students ultimately want to engage with their college experience, they want to get to know other students, they want to be connected to other students and that is driving their decision to have roommates,” Van Boxel said. 

He said he would have been less surprised if 75% of first years wanted a buyout, but it’s been a small number. With less than a hundred students requesting a buyout or single room since the initial offering, Van Boxel said they have not turned away any student who has requested a buyout or single room.