As IU begins to welcome back students for the fall semester, students are having to rethink what college life is going to be like during a pandemic. The university organized ‘Keeping IU Healthy: Ask Aaron Welcome to Campus Edition’ on Wednesday to address students’ questions and concerns about returning to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how everyone lives, and IU is no stranger to its effects. After the spring semester was cut short for online classes and a long summer of change, campus life is expected to look very different for Hoosiers.
Many of the questions were about testing. Aaron Carroll, director of surveillance and mitigation for the COVID-19 pandemic for the IU School of Medicine, answered questions about how to get tested for the virus.
“If you're a student of Bloomington and you have not been tested yet, then you have to go to the fall 2020 website and register,” Carroll said. “It's a saliva test. It is very easy to do, but it is required,”.
Carroll clarified that the requirement only applies to those who are in Bloomington, and therefore part of the community.
“If you are not part of campus, are not on campus and do not plan to be in Bloomington, then you should let us know,” Carroll said. ”We will work this out to ensure people are not dinged if it is completely unreasonable to get tested.”
While off-campus students in Bloomington are required to take a saliva test, Carroll specified that on-campus students living in congregate housing are required to take nasal antigen tests, which allow for rapid results, prior to arrival.
Carroll said students will keep their dorm room even if they test positive for COVID-19, but they won't be allowed to isolate there.
“If you’re in on-campus housing and you test positive at any time, we will work with you to find the best way for you to isolate,” Carroll said. “We’ve set aside housing on all of our campuses for people to isolate. When you are released from your isolation dorm, 10 days after your positive test, you will absolutely move back into your original dorm.”
Lukas Leftwich, executive director of Residential Programs and Services, added that students should speak with their parents about their contingency plan if they do test positive for COVID-19 while on campus.
“When you are tested, you’re going to be given a go bag,” Leftwich said. ”We are encouraging students to think about what might happen and what you will need if you test positive.”
Someone linked a packing list in the chat box.
The webinar also covered what student activities will look like this year. Students will not be allowed to have visitors from outside of their center in their dorm rooms.
“Non-IU people are not welcome in the residence halls,” Leftwich said. “People not from your center will not be welcome in your center.”
This means, for example, students living in Foster Quad can continue visiting other students in Foster, regardless of which wing they live in. However, students from other dorms can't visit students in Foster.
Though in-person visitation in the dorms will be restricted, virtual visitation is allowed. Leftwich is working with IU-Bloomington to develop themed virtual rooms for students to visit in. Some of the rooms will be for movie viewing and others for trivia games
“We are building virtual rooms where students can connect with students from other communities because students aren’t allowed to have visitors in their rooms,” Leftwich said.
Students are allowed to visit in public campus spaces as long as they are wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
Dr. Kathy Adams Riester, associate vice provost for Student Affairs and executive dean of students, emphasized the importance of cooperation.
“Students have to participate in this with us," Riester said. "Students have to be honest and cooperate.”
Dr. Riester was asked how the campus will enforce mask wearing in public spaces such as classrooms and what the repercussions will be if students, faculty or staff refuse.
“Students will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct if they refuse to wear a mask,” Riester said. “Multiple-times refusing can result in suspension or expulsion from the university. The same goes for employees.”
Riester also emphasized that large in-person parties will not be tolerated, even off-campus.
“Monroe county passed an ordinance that limited gatherings at private locations to 50 people," Riester said. "That would include any of our students’ off-campus housing.”
Riester said if police are called to large parties, they will clarify whether the people hosting the parties are IU students.
“The police will share that information with us to send to the IU Student Conduct Office,” she said.
The webinar addressed dozens of questions, many of which are not addressed in this article. To view the full webinar, please visit broadcast.iu.edu. For more information on how IU plans to operate this semester, please visit Fall2020.iu.edu.
Update: Since this article was posted gatherings at private locations have been limited to 15 people.