Residence halls adjust to COVID-19 guidelines

Biever+Hall+looks+out+over+the+quad+on+Sept.+23.+Rules+in+residence+halls+have+had+to+adjust+for+safety+and+health+reasons+amid+the+COVID-19+pandemic.+Photo+credit%3A+Michael+Bauer

Biever Hall looks out over the quad on Sept. 23. Rules in residence halls have had to adjust for safety and health reasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

Hallie Wesley

Since coming to an abrupt halt in March, Loyola has made safety among students its number one priority, and the university has implemented protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19 in residence halls.

Residential Assistants will take on bigger tasks this year than normal, according to Destiny Sanders, an RA in Biever Hall, which mainly include the enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines.

The role of RAs has changed considerably, Sanders said. Typically, an RA is responsible for monitoring social and behavioral conduct while enforcing the rules of the universities, Sanders said. Now, RAs are in charge of COVID-19 policy enforcement, which includes social distancing, wearing masks and guest control.

Amy Boyle, director of residential life, said the department hired a coordinator for COVID-19 operations support this fall. They’ve trained RAs and partner with medical staff to support the basic needs of students in temporary isolation or quarantine. Meal delivery, wellness checks and land laundry service are coordinated daily or as needed with the help of the department’s coordinator, according to Boyle.

If Loyola were to close its campus with the residence halls remaining open, RAs would continue their role but through virtual programming, regular check-ins and general support, according to Boyle.

The Maroon reported in May that Loyola has updated the security in dorms as well as decreased beds on campus, which allowed the university to decrease student density in residence halls. This has also made space for management to take rooms and floors offline for students testing positive for COVID-19.

As COVID-19 has forced the university to change occupancy in residence halls, the college experience of living in dorms different from before the virus.

Students said that it’s become a challenge to socialize with friends while continuing to follow CDC guidelines.

“It’s harder to have a social life, but we’re in the midst of a pandemic so there are sacrifices we all have to make,” said Omari Caldwell, history and political science senior.

While maintaining a social life is difficult during this time, Residential Assistants are working to provide virtual engagement to the students living in dorms. RAs such as Destiny Sanders, a sophomore living in Biever Hall, said that students are responding well to the new restrictions.

“Social wise, we are a work in progress… Residential Life has a lot of restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, but residents have figured out new ways to interact socially,” Sanders said.

Whether that’s hanging out in the Peace quad, being socially distant in the kitchen/common area, or by actively engaging in our floor Zoom calls, Sanders said it will take more time for residents to fully adapt to new social norms in Loyola residence halls.