CC housing preps for reduced-density fall with hundreds of beds in supplemental options

Plus, what you missed in CC’s Town Hall for CC employees

Good morning, and happy Tuesday. On this pre-pandemic date last year, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College was hosting a summer vegan market. (The Fine Arts Center is currently closed to the public because of the pandemic).

Today, we break down how COVID-19 might affect Colorado College student housing in the fall, and we’ll recap last week’s Town Hall for CC employees.

➡️ICYMI: Yesterday, Phoebe Lostroh returned to give her weekly COVID-19 forecast for El Paso County and to speak about testing upon arrival and a new swine flu.

Infographic by Colorado College students Rana Abdu, Aleesa Chua, Sara Dixon, Jia Mei, and Lindsey Smith.

Office of Housing postpones room selection, finds ‘supplemental housing’ options in the countdown to fall

Last Thursday, Student Housing Manager Rochelle Taylor and Director of the Residential Experience Bethany Grubbs spoke with two of our CCRP correspondents about last semester’s move-out process, the ways they’re trying to reduce on-campus density, and how students might have to use common spaces when they return to campus. Colorado College will host a Housing and Dining Town Hall on Friday, July 10 to answer additional questions. 

🏡CC acquires supplemental housing options to decrease on-campus density

By mid-April, Colorado College’s Office of Housing had started looking into finding additional off-campus housing options for students returning to campus in the fall. They started looking around to see how they might accommodate the crush of students expected to return. 

“It was like, wow, we’re going to have to do something,” Taylor says. 

That something turned out like this: Third and fourth-year students have the option to live in a West Edge four-bedroom apartment about six miles from campus on Austin Bluffs Parkway; a four-or-five-bedroom apartment or townhome at The Lodges, which is about seven miles from campus on Nevada Avenue. Another option is a double or “suite-style” room at Bijou West on West Bijou Street about two miles from campus. The college will provide regularly scheduled shuttle buses to and from campus and these communities for students who don’t have personal transportation.

For CC upperclassmen looking to live in an on-campus apartment, they first have to go through an extensive application and selection process. But there won’t be one of those for the new supplemental options; interested groups of students will simply email and wait to hear about next steps. The costs for these spaces will be slightly cheaper than the on-campus apartment rates, and these students won’t have to purchase meal plans.

As of last Thursday, Taylor estimated her office had approximately 300 beds in these supplemental options. “We don’t know how many students will want to take advantage of that,” she says, “but we have at least that many beds.”

Grubbs says her office will announce Residential Advisor staffing at a later time depending on student interest, but that “there will be some staffing regardless.”

🛌No plexiglass, and no ‘magic solution’: What dorm life might look like in the fall

Some colleges are thinking about installing plexiglass barriers in otherwise-cramped dorm rooms in the fall — a set-up Grubbs says they looked into but decided against.

“We’ve looked at a few of those things that we could perhaps institutionally purchase, but I think that none of them has really offered a particularly magic solution,” Grubbs says. “Are we really going to say that two roommates living in the same room have to be able to completely be isolated from one another?”

But one thing is for certain: dorm life will look different when students return to campus. For example, Grubbs is proposing dorm lounges, kitchens, and laundry rooms operate with a reservation system to ensure only one party is in a common area at a time. She also hopes antibacterial wipes will be readily available so students can wipe those areas down before and after use. As for requirements for when students will have to wear masks while in dorm buildings, Grubbs says they are waiting for guidance from the “Prevention” summer work team.

“I don’t know particularly what our student body is thinking,” she says. “And I wish I knew how many of them were wearing masks now and getting used to it so that it’s going to feel very comfortable to them — or at least normative to them — once they get to campus.”

🤒Forget the quad. Where will you go to quarantine? So far unclear. 

In the lead-up to Pandemic Fall, the college is looking into setting aside some rooms specifically for students who need to quarantine or isolate. Grubbs says she is not yet ready to announce where those spaces will be. 

“But what we have is enough housing inventory and spaces that would be particularly set aside for quarantine,” Grubbs says. “We’ve looked at the accessibility of those spaces: so the privacy of a restroom, the privacy of entry and exit, the ability to have a single room, the ability to be able to cook for oneself.”

⏲Room selection process postponed for upperclassmen

There are probably over 1,700 beds available for students on campus, a number that could change as the college works on reducing campus density, says Taylor.

“We won’t be assigning anyone to a triple room unless they request to be in a triple,” she says. “And then we’ll honor every match the students create where they want to be in double rooms as well.”

The Office of Housing is postponing the room selection process for upperclassmen living on campus in the fall, while they work on a plan to decrease on-campus density, reconfigure some residential bedrooms, and assign students to the supplemental housing options. When upperclassmen eventually return to campus, they will have to register for a move-in window, like first-years will when they move onto campus in August. 

📦Behind-the-scenes of last semester’s move-out process

When CC initially announced spring’s Block 7 would take place via distance learning but left the possibility of returning to campus for Block 8, some students left their belongings behind. On April 29, administrators sent out an email saying that because the Colorado stay-at-home order was now lifting, students should plan to move out their belongings by June 15. Their options: 

  • Group 1: Students could “contact a moving company and arrange and pay for their own move” between April 29 and May 10 

  • Group 2: Students currently on campus could move out between May 11 and May 17

  • Group 3: Students could also return to campus and move their own belongings between May 18 and June 15

In response to this email, 422 students signed a “Spring 2020 Move Out Petition,” asking for the college to extend the move-out timeline: “We understand that Colorado College is trying its best in a difficult time for all of us, but it is unfair to be asked to do something that we believe could put ourselves and others in danger and could put increased financial pressure on ourselves and our families,” students wrote.

On May 1, students received another email about move-out procedures, which included that students now had until July 6 to move out. 

“We wanted to work with students in any way possible; we wanted to give financial assistance where financial assistance was needed,” Grubbs says. “But it just couldn’t happen that students could just leave their items until the next year because there was so much that needed to be done in terms of cleaning and then being ready for early arrivals.” Grubbs later added: “For any students that were dissatisfied with that process, ... I understand.”

As of July 2, Taylor estimates about 90% of the rooms on campus are empty. Grubbs and Taylor don’t yet have a complete plan in case students need to move off campus during the fall semester but caution that even with hindsight, the process could still be messy. 

“If things were to happen again, I’m sure that there are ways that we can tweak the process and potentially make some improvements on the process,” Grubbs says. “But at the same token, there’s nothing to guarantee that the next time ... it would unfold the same way, or that it would unfold differently.”

CC Employees Town Hall: No campus-wide testing upon entry and no visitors 

  • VISITORS: The college will remain closed to visitors, which includes retirees, alumni, and prospective students. No outside speakers will physically come to campus, so administrators are working on what this might mean for the blockly First Monday series. Campus will also be closed to routine delivery of products from vendors, and if a department wanted an outside vendor to cater individual lunches, they would first have to go through Bon Appétit.

  • FURLOUGHS: The deadline to apply for voluntary furlough was June 30, but because of “continued interest,” administrators have now pushed the deadline back to July 31. “Currently we have no plans for layoffs, nor for furloughs,” said acting co-president Robert Moore. Though Moore later added that Colorado College is a tuition-dependent institution; so if the college holds classes remotely for most of the year and had to reduce tuition or issue refunds, they would possibly have to look into furloughs, reductions to salaries, and reductions to employer retirement contributions.

  • TESTING: Colorado College is working with El Paso County Public Health and UC Health Infectious Diseases to develop testing plans. Because of guidance from these public health partners, Colorado College will not be testing everyone when they first come to campus or asking students to quarantine upon arrival, said Vice President for Information Technology Brian Young, who is a member of the “Testing, Treatment, and Response” work team and chair of the “Prevention” work team. The college is working to make COVID-19 tests “cost-free” for students, and the policy for informing the campus of a positive test result is TBD. When asked about the COVID-19 case threshold that would force CC to close campus: “There is no magic number,” Young said. “We may have to change on a dime based on local ordinance or state ordinance,” he later added.

  • VENTILATION: Facilities has done a “deep review” into air flow and HVAC systems in campus buildings and will be taking measures to ensure all campus buildings have proper circulation, according to Young.

  • DINING: The dining halls will serve all food on disposable products and encourage social distancing. Administrators are currently working on how to ensure class times are staggered to spread out student demand for lunch services. For employees, there will be no more communal lunches in CC departments, so they should expect to bring their own food to work.

  • STUDENT CONDUCT: Acting Dean of Students Rochelle Dickey has started working on a “commitment” for student behavior in accordance with safety guidelines and has added to the student conduct process, according to acting co-president Mike Edmonds.

✍🏻CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this newsletter referred to Acting Dean of Students Rochelle Dickey as “Rochelle Dickey-Mason.” She has removed “Mason” from her name, and we have made the appropriate correction.

About the CC COVID-19 Reporting Project

The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project is a student-faculty collaboration by Colorado College student journalists Miriam Brown and Arielle Gordon, Journalism Institute Director Steven Hayward, Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism Corey Hutchins, and Assistant Professor of English Najnin Islam. Work by Phoebe Lostroh, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at CC and National Science Foundation Program Director in Genetic Mechanisms, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, will appear from time to time, as will infographics by Colorado College students Rana Abdu, Aleesa Chua, Sara Dixon, Jia Mei, and Lindsey Smith.

The project seeks to provide frequent updates about CC and other higher education institutions during the pandemic by providing original reporting, analysis, interviews with campus leaders, and context about what state and national headlines mean for the CC community. 

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