Universities help students adjust to campus life changes amid pandemic

Posted at 8:30 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 08:42:27-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — College students have begun moving onto campus, either for the first time or returning to a very different setting than last year.

While it’s not quite the experience students hoped for, officials with the University of Kentucky and Transylvania University say they’re working to make sure students living on campus still get the socialization and resources they need.

One of the first changes students notice is that move-ins for both Transy and UK were spread across several days to help keep families safe. The social distancing changes will continue as students live in the residence halls this year.

“In their room, they were greeted with their wellness kits, which had a mask and a thermometer, hand sanitizer, things like that,” UK’s Acting Dean of Students Trisha Clement-Montgomery said.

She added while residents still have roommates, rooms that hold several people have been reduced.

“If it was a four-person suite, only two people are allowed in there,” Clement-Montgomery said. “The expectation is that you have one student per bathroom.”

Some furniture has been taken out of common areas at both universities to keep them from getting too crowded. Resident advisers and resident assistants will still serve as mentors, but in a more virtual setting.

“A lot of them typically do floor meetings and one-on-ones with each one of their residents,” Clement-Montgomery said. “They are still continuing to do that, but all of that is going to happen virtually.”

That strategy will carry over into hall events and activities. Transy’s Director of Housing and Residence Life Jeremy Sheffield said they have plans to still bring residents together even with the new environment.

“We will not be doing too many large in-person gatherings, but we will still be doing small group programming and a lot of virtual programming,” he said. “Online bingo, watching a Netflix movie together, if we want to come out to the lawn and space out and just hang out together and socialize, we can.”

The university does understand this can be a difficult time even with accommodations. Sheffield says RA’s have been trained to handle navigating the changes and there are plenty of on-campus resources.

“Students who are having issues with socialization, they’re having issues with getting involved on campus, we’re still going to have all of our resources available to find them and get them connected to campus organizations and campus events,” Sheffield said.