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An arial view of "New South" : Tanaka, Sowle, Luchs and Carr residence halls.

Residence Halls, Resident Assistants adjust to COVID-19 guidelines

Residents and Resident Assistants living on campus for Phase One of Ohio University’s phased return plan are settling into the new reality of following self-guided safety protocols. 

Under OU’s return plan, about 2,200 students were approved to return for Phase One, University Spokesperson Carly Leatherwood said. 313 of those students will be living on-campus as of Aug. 18. 

“That number will fluctuate as this is a fluid situation,” Leatherwood said in an email. 

RAs usually have about 20 to 30 residents, Ailish Stein, a senior studying specialized studies and a RA in Sowle, said. Due to the pandemic, however, Stein only has nine residents.

Every student is living in their own suite-style room in either Adams Hall, Carr Hall, Sowle Hall or Tanaka Hall. Luchs Hall was used as a quarantine dorm for students who originally came from “hotspot” states at a level three warning or above, Stein said.

Those living in the dorms are subject to OU’s interim mask order and must submit a Campus COVID Safety Assessment each day. Residents also had to sign the OHIO Pledge and complete COVID-19 training before moving in.

Stein said the university is primarily relying on students to stay on track with their assessments.

“Your health assessment is your own responsibility to do,” Stein said. “No one else will hold you accountable for that.”

If a student discovers they have COVID-19 symptoms, it is their responsibility to call the university’s COVID-19 hotline. Students can also tell their RA, Stein said. 

“That can expedite the housing process to get them into quarantine faster, should that be necessary,” Stein said.

Hoover House, and other back south buildings such as Ewing House and Wray House may be used for quarantining, Stein said.

Stein thinks the university protocols for living in dorms are sufficient for mitigating the spread of the virus.

“We really have taken a good stance on making sure everyone feels safe and protected,” she said. “I don't really see a need for anything being added in the residence halls, other than just the general social distancing and staying safe.”

RAs have not received any direct communication from OU on how many more residents they could possibly receive during Phase Two, Stein said.

Individual colleges are already planning which of their students they will permit back on campus for Phase Two. Priority will be given to programs that need special equipment or facilities, research, graduation and retention support, senior experiences and capstone classes, according to a previous Post report

In the meantime, Stein is trying her best to virtually build a community with her residents.

“(Campus) is a lot more empty than in usual years,” Stein said. “But, it has been a good experience, and I think that everybody's really excited to be here, regardless of the situation.”


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