Laurentian University unveils plans for residence ahead of students' return
It's going to be tough for officials at Laurentian University, this fall there will be a lot less students living in residence.
Administration has announced it will be reducing its occupancy to 35 per cent capacity in a bid to keep up physical distancing efforts.
"We are expecting students to return to residence, which is exciting, but our capacity will be reduced," said Residence Life Coordinator Kayla Dibblee.
"Typically there's about 1,200 students on campus and we're expecting somewhere between 400-500."
Dibblee says different buildings will be used. The school isn't planning on using its traditional dorm-style residence in favour of apartment-style accommodations.
"Students will be placed in single occupancy rooms only and then there's an additional precaution and health and safety features that are in place," she explained.
Signs have gone up on walls and along the floor to encourage people to keep their distance from one another.
Masks must be worn when entering the residence and only one to two people are being allowed on the elevators at a time.
"It's just instructing those students who are now in those close-quarters or that bubble to use extra high-touch cleaning, disinfectant and stuff like that," she added.
There are some unused rooms that have been set aside for students who might need to quarantine because they've either contracted the virus or they are coming into the country and they need to isolate for 14 days.
Eric Chappell is the president of Laurentian University's Students' General Association and has been living in residence since the start of the pandemic.
He is one of only 100 students who’s still on campus. He says he hasn't worried once about the conditions on campus and his personal safety.
"Residence has plans for isolation room, if there was a single case of COVID on campus, we're set up to deal with that better than going out and renting a house in the community," said Chappell.
Chappell says staff have been working around the clock to ensure their safety on campus and he's grateful. He considers his one-bedroom apartment at Laurentian home and says the fact that the university does have some one-bedroom apartments is a game-changer when it comes to physical distancing.
"I think it's a huge relief right? We never hear about people contracting it because your neighbour had it, there's apartment buildings all over the province and Laurentian residences aren't compound spaces that you think of when it comes to a typical residence," said Chappell.
Cleaning staff at the residence buildings have stepped up their efforts and are now making their way through high-touch areas at least twice-a-day with a focus on things like door-knobs.
"Laurentian Residence has always been a safe place to live. We are confident that the safety measures we are preparing for our fall intake will significantly reduce the risk to students, staff, faculty and contractors entering the buildings this fall," said Joseph McGibbon, Manager of Residence Life, Laurentian University.
In the meantime, Dibblee says most of the people she's talking with over the phone appear to like what they're seeing and hearing in their plans.
"A lot of questions from students who are attending residence or maybe parents who are sending their children away for the first time, and sending them away for the first time in a pandemic, so it is causing some relief I would say hearing these precautions have been taken," said Dibblee.
The residence plans come one week after it was revealed only 1 per cent of the school's fall courses will be offered in-person.
Student move-in dates will take place between August 31 and September 8.