Ithaca College has announced a potential plan for students to move their belongings out of their on-campus residences, although the date to do so has not yet been determined.
Dean of Students Bonnie Prunty; Marsha Dawson, director of the Office of Residential Life and the Office of Judicial Affairs; Jenny Pickett, assistant director of residential life; Laura Davis, assistant director of housing; and Rosanna Ferro, vice president for student affairs and campus life, hosted a virtual meeting May 7 to address the plan for students to move out. After the college transitioned to remote learning March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students who did not remain on campus during spring break were not allowed to return to campus to retrieve their belongings. The college initially planned for students to move out after May 12. However, Prunty said at the meeting that the Tompkins County Health Department expressed concerns about the large number of students who would be returning to campus at once, causing the college to delay that date. Prunty said 1,409 participants attended the meeting.
Although the college is uncertain about when students will be able to move out, Pickett said that the college is planning to have students collect their belongings during selected time slots.
Pickett said that five students per building will be able to move out during each time slot, and each student may only bring one person to assist them. Any additional people will not be allowed to enter the building but may remain outside. She said students can also choose to send a friend or family member to collect their belongings if they are not able to, or they may hire an outside company to collect items to be shipped to the student or stored locally.
Pickett said students will be able to select a time slot through a form on the housing portal in HomerConnect once a timeline is established. There is no information regarding how long these slots will be, but she said the time will be longer for students who live in the Garden Apartments and the Circle Apartments because of the presumably larger number of items that they will need to move.
Pickett said the college is taking measures to ensure the safety of students, families and the campus community during the move-out period by encouraging social distancing.
“We’ve been trying to develop the process to have as little person–to–person contact as possible,” she said.
Prunty said that custodial staff will disinfect the residence halls during the move-out period. Bathrooms in the halls will be open for use and supplied with hand soap and hand sanitizer. Face masks produced by the Center for Print Production will be available in the lobbies of residence halls for individuals who do not have their own.
Dawson said students will not be allowed to stay on campus overnight during the move-out period and will not be able to keep their belongings in their residence halls over the summer.
“The custodial staff is going to need to disinfect the buildings often,” Dawson said. “If you’re in your room or your belongings are, it would make that very difficult.”
Prunty said the college will continue to work closely with the health department to determine the best plan for moving out.
“Each county is being affected differently, so we need to follow federal, state and county guidelines,” Prunty said
The Southern Tier region, which includes Tompkins County, currently only meets five of the seven metrics required to begin reopening the region, according to New York state guidelines. This criteria includes the availability of hospital beds and a decreasing hospitalization rate, both of which the region meets. The region does not meet the requirements for average COVID-19 tests issued per month nor the number of contact tracers.
Dawson said students who need to return items to academic buildings, which are currently closed to students, will be able to coordinate with a campus official in that building to access the building.
Dawson also said that along with all on-campus classes and events being canceled for June and July, summer housing will not be available to students. She said there may be exceptions for students who have already been approved to remain on campus for Spring 2020 and will continue to require on-campus housing.
Pickett said the college has been considering several options to encourage social distancing if students return to campus in Fall 2020. These options include disbanding triple rooms or only having one student per room if necessary.
Prunty said more information from the college regarding moving out and plans for the fall semester will be sent in emails to students and families as the college makes decisions on these issues.