Dear Resident Mountie,
I hope this finds you healthy and well. As we all continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and look forward to the fall, I wanted to write to give you a sense of how we are approaching our on-campus housing preparations for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. We are all excited to welcome you back on campus, but it is important to remember that this semester will not look like it has in the traditional sense.
Social distancing and enhanced safety measures will need to be in place for an extended period of time. We will need to maintain flexibility for changing circumstances and be prepared for all possible scenarios. The work is already underway and I am very pleased with the progress we are making to address the range of issues and considerations involved. Please know that your health and safety, and that of everyone on campus, is paramount in all decisions.
We look forward to the day when all students can enjoy a more robust and active campus life. We also know that in this time of COVID-19, physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and frequent hand washing are critical to limiting the spread of infection. All members of the Mansfield University community are expected to take responsibility for their own health and well-being, and act with respect and consideration for those around them.
To help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, we are making the following adjustments to on-campus housing for the upcoming semester. All decisions and policies are informed by guidance from public health authorities, local, state, and/or federal government officials and are designed to achieve the goal of an engaged living and learning experience for residents. These policies may be updated or changed at any time to reflect new guidance.
If changes should occur, residents will be appropriately notified via your Mansfield email account. Failure to consistently comply with any of the policies and/or guidelines will result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.
The residence hall communities will operate differently compared to previous years. Living on campus is a privilege, and it is up to EVERYONE to ensure that our living communities remain safe and healthy. Although frequent cleaning of common and high traffic areas will be provided, residents will need to follow Mansfield University’s directives and expectations regarding public health guidelines (noting that plans are subject to re-evaluation and change). This includes:
- Complying with university, local, state, and national public health directives.
- Avoiding congregating, gathering, or hanging out in common spaces.
- Wearing a face covering when outside your assigned space and in public areas (hallways, lobbies, elevators, laundry, etc.) within all campus buildings and outdoors, when appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained (6 feet).
- Adhering to physical distancing protocols, which means maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, at all times. This includes when leaving your room to do your laundry, getting food in a dining hall, etc., as well as observing capacity limits posted for elevators, lobbies, and other spaces.
- Washing hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
- Cleaning your room (including bathrooms) multiple times per week.
- Following visitation guidelines, which is as follows:
- After official move-in, the maximum number of persons allowed to be present in any residence hall room will be limited to the number of occupants plus one (1) guest per occupant. Guests are limited to Mansfield University students ONLY and, as always, you are responsible for the behavior of your guests.
Room Assignments and Building Occupancy
Most residence halls will operate near capacity. You will still have the choice to live with roommates and accept the shared responsibility to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 through actions both inside the living spaces and throughout the Mansfield University community. Roommates will be treated as a “single household” and, for this reason, will not be required to wear a face covering inside their room, except for when guests are present.
Certain residence hall lounges and common areas will be closed to allow staff to concentrate sanitation efforts in high touch/traffic areas. Those lounges and common areas that remain open for use will have reduced occupancy capacities. The maximum occupancy in these spaces will vary, depending on square footage and signs will be posted. All students are expected to adhere to the requirements indicated on these signs.
Some of the larger multi-purpose rooms will be used as classroom space and will remain locked in between uses. The smaller lounges on the individual floors that can be locked will be locked. Most of these spaces will be available by making a reservation request. Please note: Before making the request, you must ensure you are able to meet the occupancy requirements and know that masks or face shields will be required. NO EXCEPTIONS!
Main kitchens in the residence halls will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. No more than four (4) students will be allowed in the kitchens. During food preparation, masks or face shields will be required. Masks may be removed during consumption, but only if adequate social distancing of 6 feet can be maintained in the kitchen. The individual floor kitchens in Spruce and Sycamore will remain offline.
Game rooms will also remain offline. Limited outdoor equipment will be available for check-out at the residence hall front desks and will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between uses. Board games and cooking equipment will not be available for check-out. A limited supply of cleaning equipment may also be checked out at the front desks, but you are strongly encouraged to also bring your own supplies.
Move-In Dates and Overview
The move in process in August will be a staggered approach, to ensure social distancing for all students and guests. Move-in appointments will be required. Next week, each resident will receive an email with a sign-up link to reserve a move-in day and time for your arrival to campus. Although full move-in details are still being finalized, here are a few important updates:
- You are permitted to bring two (2) guests to accompany and assist you with the move-in process; however, they must depart campus when your move-in time is over.
- You, and everyone in your move-in group, will be required to wear face coverings inside and outside of the buildings.
- We strongly encourage you to limit the number of items you bring to campus. There will be no volunteers or additional helpers to carry your items. A limited number of carts may be available and will be cleaned in between uses by our cleaning personnel.
- Elevators will have limited occupancy. There will be signs to tell you how many people may use an elevator at one time.
Dates for scheduled move-in are anticipated to be Tuesday, August 11 through Thursday, August 13 for incoming students (first-years and transfers) and Friday, August 14 through Sunday, August 16 for returning students. Unfortunately, due to the need to social distance, special accommodations for move-in will be extremely limited. Please refrain from making these requests until the official move-in information comes out next week.
Mansfield University follows directives from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines and the PA Department of Health, including mandates for travel-related quarantine. The current list may be found here. If you have traveled to, or are coming from any of these areas, you are asked to email Jim Welch, Environmental Health and Safety Officer, at email@example.com.
You are advised to self-isolate to ensure that you are COVID-19 symptom free before coming to campus.
At check-in, the University will be providing each resident with a washable cloth face coverings, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a disposable thermometer. Residents are strongly encouraged to also bring additional face coverings and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) as you see fit. You can find the Room Essentials Checklist here. Keep in mind, the more you bring, the more that will need to be cleaned and sanitized.
Based on survey data from early 2020, students reported they were not using the cable television connections that were provided and instead have become much more accustomed to having streaming services. Cable television is no longer available and having a Smart TV or a device from which you can stream content is suggested. The University has been upgrading bandwidth and wi-fi over the last couple of years to provide students with improved connections. There are lots of streaming services and many offer student discounts, if you use your University email account. Some popular streaming sites include: Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Spotify Premium with Hulu and Showtime.
If we repopulate the campus as planned, it is important to realize that spikes in COVID-19 cases may jeopardize our ability to remain on campus. Accordingly, we need the commitment of all residents to respect campus policies and adaptations related to public health and to personally follow everyday preventative actions. Residents are asked to carefully consider when and how they expose themselves to others on and off campus.
We ask that during the duration of the semester, you limit travel and excessive mixing with others – particularly without taking protective measures and social distancing – in interest of your academic community. It is also important for all members of the community to remember that there are students – including some residents – who have pre-existing medical conditions placing them at greater risk for COVID-19 illness.
The cornerstone of our commitment to residents is shared social responsibility by all members of the community. We must all embrace these new procedures to be vigilant in protecting not only ourselves, but every member of the Mansfield University community. This is a rapidly changing and evolving situation and we ask your patience as we navigate through this time. The staff and Resident Assistants, who are your peers, are here to help.
We know this will be challenging, and not how we are accustomed to living. If we can all continue to make the commitment to our health and that of those around us, we are confident Mansfield University Student Living can be an engaging and vibrant community that promotes public health and best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19. We ask all MOUNTIES to act in a way that shows we care about one another’s well-being.
We look forward to having you on-campus!
Mrs. Dusty J Zeyn
Interim Dean of Students