Residence life makes minimal changes to rules, but new precautions set for safety

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As Southern’s Campus Preparedness Task Force continues arrangements for a safe reopen of the university, residence life is one of the topics discussed. Though there will be minimal changes to the already existing rules, new precautions will be set in place to ensure the safety of dorm and village residents.
Some of the biggest preventive measures include a change in the check-in process, the addition of quarantine halls and the recommendation to wear masks inside the dorms.In previous years, the check-in process has not required students to make prior appointments before moving in. This year, however, Student Development Vice President Dennis Negron reported that the university will require students to schedule their arrival date and time beforehand in order to control the number of individuals settling in at one time.
According to Negron, move-in dates for new students will begin on August 14 while dates for returning students will start on August 18. An email will be sent out to students later in July with more information about check-in processes.
In addition to this change, the university will be reserving two halls, one in Thatcher and one in Talge, to quarantine students who have come in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Each hall will have 30 empty rooms and will accommodate one person per room.
The amount of time someone will need to quarantine will depend on when the contact took place. But according to Negron, they will be following the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where the advised time is 14 days from the last exposure.
“Once that period is over and that person doesn’t get sick within that certain amount of time, then they can go back to the regular room,” Negron said.
If a student tests positive for COVID-19, he or she will be put into isolation housing, located in the Upper Stateside Apartments that are used for guest lodging. If the student is asymptomatic, the isolation period will last up to 14 days. If the student is symptomatic, then the Tennessee Department of Health and the University Health Center (UHC) will determine the appropriate approach. The UHC will provide COVID-19 testing, which will be 100% covered by university insurance or family insurance, according to Negron.
The biggest change students will have to get used to, Negron said, is wearing masks. Though masks will not be enforced inside the dorm, except when Resident Assistants (RA) do night checks, it will be highly encouraged to keep them on while in the building’s public areas. “We know that wearing masks is not going to be fun. I don’t enjoy wearing it myself,” Negron said. “But our number one priority, after giving a Christian education to the students, is making sure that they [students] stay safe.”
Southern will provide each student with two washable face masks at the beginning of the semester.
Additional safety measures to residence life this coming semester include installation of Plexiglass at the front desks, constant cleaning of recreation, laundry and weight rooms and halving the capacity of these areas.
“Housekeeping will be using electrostatic units to sanitize the larger common areas a couple of times a day as well as wiping down frequently touched areas several times per day,” said Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Lisa Hall. 
As part of the recent campus-wide protocol to conduct daily symptoms checks, two booths will be installed in the lobbies of Thatcher and Talge halls where students can check their temperatures. There will also be one checkpoint at the Collegedale Church parking lot for Village residents.
According to Hall, curfew hours and the leave system will remain the same. However, visitors, unless they are students, will not be allowed inside the rooms or apartments. “The main thing to keep in mind is that we all have to work together to help each other stay healthy,” Hall said. “And, while it will be somewhat different, we will keep as much normalcy as possible.”

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