Students move into campus dorms, concerns over social distancing arise

Patrick Hann poses on his second-floor balcony while quarantined in Loyola Village. Katherine Na/FOGHORN

Paavani Lella

Contributing Writer

Move-in day was quite different this year. Approximately 140 students moved into on-campus housing on Aug. 15, a mere fraction of the nearly 1,000 students who ordinarily move in during any given year. In order to maintain social distance, student move-ins were spaced out over a nine hour window.

In an email, Torry Brouillard-Bruce, senior director of Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE), described move-in day as being “very different and almost a bit surreal.” He said, “We did have some GO (Get Oriented) Team members at [Loyola Village] and Toler to help students feel welcomed, but it was still a very different feeling.” 

Sunshine Joyce Batasin, a sophomore nursing student, said she felt that the move-in process was smooth and did not have any major issues. “We had been receiving a lot of emails about the process in the weeks prior, so I wasn’t really caught off-guard by anything in particular,” she said. Before moving in, students were required to take a COVID-19 course on Canvas, which outlined precautions to limit the spread, and “sign” a pledge that they would follow the health and safety measures in place.

After moving in, students were required to quarantine for a 14-day period. Additionally, all communal gathering spaces — like lounges — are closed, visiting privileges are suspended, there are maximum occupancy limits in all usable common areas (i.e. bathrooms and laundry rooms), and everyone is required to wear a face covering outside their room and maintain social distance at all times. 

While the rules are abundant, Brouillard-Bruce stressed the importance of following them, and said, “The best health plans will not work if those they are working to protect do not follow them.” 

However, some think that these rules are not being enforced enough.

“These rules, to my knowledge, have been horribly enforced. I know quite a few people here right now who are coming and going freely,” said junior Patrick Hann. Although Hann does not think the rules are being enforced effectively, he still believes that, “USF, in general, does a pretty good job at keeping [students] safe.”

Batasin echoed a similar statement, and explained that, “It feels like USF has been a bit lenient on enforcing this quarantine, but that may be because I expected them to monitor and police us, which they aren’t.”

In response to these concerns, Brouillard-Bruce said, “It is important to note that not all students are in quarantine,” and noted that exceptions include students who arrived in the summer, students who moved in early and whose 14-day quarantine period has thus ended, and students with exceptions that have been approved by the San Francisco Department of Public Health — such as nursing students with clinicals, or residents with pressing medical needs.

“As for enforcement, we do not have staff who [are] actively monitoring residence halls, but have asked anyone to report to [us] any violations they’ve seen,” said Brouillard-Bruce. “We’ve received a few reports, and those who were reported were individuals that were either done with their quarantine or who have been approved for exception.” 

Every student who is living on-campus, with the exception of those assigned to St. Anne’s Community, is required to have a meal plan. “I heard that it was to make sure nobody faced food insecurity if there were major changes to the restaurant or delivery industry in San Francisco this semester,” Batasin said. 

Students are currently using a mobile app that was developed by USF’s contracted food service provider, Bon Appétit, called GET, to order food. “[The food] comes right in front of the student’s doors, so there’s no need to even step outside of our room,” Batasin said. The meals come in a paper bag, packed in plastic containers with utensils and condiments on the side. 

The food delivery option is only for those currently participating in the 14-day mandated quarantine period. However, once students are authorized to exit isolation, they can still use the app to pre-order food and pick up items in a contactless fashion.

Hann compared the process to hotel room service and expressed his satisfaction with the dining options. “People judge the cafeteria here too hard,” said Hann. “Sure, it’s not five star quality, and sure it may be a little overpriced, but it’s food and it’s good.” 

Batasin admitted she feels “a little anxious” about how closely people will adhere to quarantine as the 14-day period comes to a close, but “thinks [they’re] off to a good start.” She said, “I also think this sets a good precedent if the university wants to consider a hybrid model of instruction and bring more people back on campus in Spring. Nowadays, everything is always changing, so who knows what can happen.”

Hann sees both positives and negatives about his new living situation. “The privacy is amazing. There’s nothing better than being able to do what you want, when you want. I am getting incredibly anxious though, I really can’t wait for my quarantine period to end. It’s boring as hell not being able to go outside,” he said. “As soon as I’m out of this quarantine though, the first thing I’m doing is getting tacos with friends and watching the sunset at Ocean Beach.”

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