Halfway there: USF’s return to normal

Campus community members began to utilize USF Mobile OneCard this week, including verification of vaccine status. PHOTO COURTESY OF BEAU TATTERSALL/SAN FRANCISCO FOGHORN

As most students revert back to raising hands in class instead of unmuting their mics, and professors adjust to teaching through masks, some might notice there’s been a few notable changes to campus life since we last saw each other in March 2020.

The USF OneCard has gone fully digital through the GET Mobile app. No longer can a plastic rectangle get you locked out of your dorm when you forget it. Students can now pay for food and access campus buildings with just the tap of their smartphone.

“The switch to go mobile was a decision the university made as a whole,” said Mari Mabanag, an office assistant at the OneCard Office. The new mobile app lessens the contact between people that physical cards would necessitate, and moving forward, new students will no longer be receiving physical OneCards.

Additionally, any phone and battery-related anxiety won’t be necessary while trying to access campus. According to Mabanag, GET Mobile will continue to work and let campus community members tap in up to five hours after a phone battery drains. 

With the digitization of the USF OneCard, so too comes the mobile accessibility of the Muni pass. Once a sticker students had to replace every semester, now it is an unlimited mobile ticket via the MuniMobile app, which will last until the 2022 spring semester. Students do not need to scan their mobile passes, they can just hop on the bus as ticket officers are aware of this new policy for USF students.

In addition, the 31-Balboa Muni route, which runs along Turk Blvd. and past Lone Mountain was also restored back on Aug. 14, after a long absence due to pandemic-related Muni service shutdowns.

Meanwhile, to prevent any time-consuming switches between an in-person class to an online modality, the University announced on Aug. 20 that it made 38 study spaces available across campus for this fall semester that can be reserved online.

However, these spaces will only be available to non-residential students with same-day modality switches within a 60-minute window. The University recommended, per the August 20 update that “Residential students should use their own rooms… or use the spaces that are available without any reservation requirement at Gleeson Library.” In order to accommodate students studying outside, USF is looking to improve the campus bandwidth.

While USF will not be hosting third-party events or throwing “mega events” (5,000 attendees indoors and 10,000 outdoors), students can still look forward to their extracurriculars.

The Koret Health and Recreation Center is continuing to offer self-care and recreation programs, both virtual and in-person, including intramural and club sports, outdoor adventure trips, and group fitness classes such as yoga and dance.

The annual Involvement Fair by Student Leadership and Engagement, which was held virtually last year, will take place in Gleeson Plaza Thursday, Sept. 2, with over 100 organizations signed up to participate. Student organizations will be able to host events on campus, with public health-related limitations. 

Dining in-person has also returned to campus. However, the cafeteria has undergone some changes, with plexiglass barriers and plastic sheets set up to protect both students and staff. Apple Pay and OneCard tap stations are set up at each location to pay. Following the San Francisco mandate which requires proof of vaccination for entry to certain indoor businesses, there is a vaccine status verification table at the entrance, with campus community members needing to tap their OneCards upon entry or show their vaccine cards.

“As the COVID climate is ever-changing, we continue to have an open dialogue with local SFDPH officials to make sure we are compliant with city and state regulations, while ensuring our USF students, faculty and staff still have an enjoyable dining experience,” said Crystal Chun Wong, resident district manager of Bon Appétit.

Since the start of the pandemic, the University has experienced many changes. As the semester continues, COVID-19’s unpredictable nature ensures that these will not be the only adjustments at the Hilltop.


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