With detailed safety precautions in place, Oklahoma State University students began the move-in process Friday.
The process looked different for returning campus residents. For incoming freshmen, the scene represented the new “normal.” Despite the challenges, Director of Housing and Residential Life Dr. Leon McClinton said the university was well prepared to welcome students back to campus.
OSU’s plan limits the number of students who can move in at one time to 850 total students across 31 residence halls. It also requires students and staff to wear a mask any time they are in a public area or outside of their assigned living unit. Students were provided a mask upon check-in.
All on-campus residents are required to complete a COVID-19 test prior to checking in to campus housing, and free testing was provided by University Health Services (UHS) via stations at designated check-in sites capable of processing 30 tests per hour. Students were encouraged to isolate themselves until receiving their test results and all on-campus residents were required to submit those results to UHS.
McClinton called Friday a good start to an ongoing process to get students settled in safely.
“We have spent over three months preparing for this semester,” he said. “We know that it’s an unprecedented time.
“We are designed and wired to bring students together and help them meet people and connect. Entering this year, it feels a bit foreign to us because now we’re trying to discourage large gatherings. … It’s really unfortunate that we have to do these things, but our number one priority is keeping our students safe, so we’re doing everything we can to try to minimize the spread of this disease.”
The university has installed social distancing markers, plexiglass shields on desks, centrally located hand sanitizer stations in the halls, designated entrance and exit doors, designated up- and down-stairwells and installed new air filters in air handling units. Additional signage reminds everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands and socially distance.
All residential and community spaces were disinfected and sanitized using hospital grade disinfectant prior to move-in. OSU has doubled the frequency of community bathroom cleanings during the week, added weekend cleanings, and reduced seating occupancy in lounges and public spaces that may entice students to act against the interest of their own health and that of the university community.
OSU is also engaged in a vigorous campaign to educate students on steps they can take to protect themselves and others. Part of that campaign is the Cowboy Promise to Protect, a pledge affirming the shared responsibility of everyone in the Cowboy family to safeguard the health of the entire campus community.
McClinton said move-in is an exciting time for students and the university is eager to welcome them to campus. At the same time, he said safety has to be the focus.
“The pandemic toll on our campus is going to be heavily influenced by how our students conduct themselves on a daily basis,” he said. “We’re hoping that we can educate and help our students understand the importance of wearing facial coverings at all times in public settings, washing their hands often and then also maintaining adequate distancing between themselves and others.
“We added language to our housing contract this summer in regard to COVID-19 and behaviors we expect and how students need to wear masks when they’re in public settings within our residential communities. If there are habitual offenders who do not want to comply on a consistent basis, we have the authority to remove them from housing. We’re taking this very seriously.”
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