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University relaxes some COVID-19 policies for dorms, events

University relaxes some COVID-19 policies for dorms, events

University relaxes some COVID-19 policies for dorms, events
February 04
10:00 2021

The university has relaxed some COVID-19 policies this semester, including allowing students living in residence halls to have guests from other halls, larger in-person events and in-person courses, as well as increasing testing availability.

COVID-19 cases in Denton County are rising again and have been since December, with more than 15,000 active cases, more than 300 deaths and about 37,000 recovered cases. Denton hit a spike in cases recorded per day, with approximately 1,100 reported on Jan. 19, according to the county’s COVID-19 statistics webpage. This was only topped one other time, with 1,200 cases on Oct. 6, 2020.

As of Jan. 25, residents are allowed to have guests from other residence halls in their room. Off-campus guests are still prohibited from the residence halls.

Housing encourages students to maintain social distancing and mask requirements even when in a private resident room. More specifics on this policy can be found on Housing’s website.

Organizations wanting to meet in-person were limited to 10 individuals, but can now have more than 10 as long as the meeting is compliant with the location’s COVID-19 capacity. 

Every room on campus has been reevaluated to calculate its COVID-19 capacity, which takes into consideration the number of individuals the room can hold given a six-foot distance between each person. Meeting locations for clubs and organizations have been expanded to the Union, the Gateway Center, the sorority and fraternity meeting centers and the Pohl Recreation Center. 

Melissa McGuire, the associate vice president for student affairs, said the university feels comfortable with these in-person policies because they have the coverage to implement them. They are equipped with employees to fully clean and sanitize locations and classrooms, as well as enforce wearing masks consistently and maintaining social distance. 

“A community spread would likely not be from the well-regulated classes and activities being held in-person, but from what students may choose to do outside of campus and on their own time,” McGuire said. “Students are craving that human connection with other students, and these regulated in-person options give a resemblance of normalcy.”

Professor Eric Fuentes is one of the few Spanish professors teaching in-person this semester.

“I feel safer in a classroom than I do in a grocery store,” Fuentes said. “Regulations are in-place and I have the ability to enforce them, which is not so the case in other public places. Students need in-person teaching, especially when it comes to language learning. And I too have found that I thrive better in the physical classroom.”

Education freshman Presley Ryan said they feel more engaged in an in-person class.

“But I’m definitely wary of it considering the current spike of cases,” Ryan said. “I just hope other students are following guidelines so we can safely stay on campus.”

Testing on campus has expanded this semester. The university has a new testing provider, Curative, Inc., available in testing centers in the Union, the Gateway Center, the parking garages and the Student Health and Wellness Center. Testing is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Saturday. Students, faculty and staff can sign up for free testing at the Union or Gateway Center‘s Curative testing webpages.

Featured Image: The university placed COVID-19 restrictions on residence halls shown on signage at Joe Greene Hall on Jan. 31, 2021. As of January 25, residents will be allowed to have guests from other residence halls. Image by John Anderson

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Gwen Reed

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