Fall 2020 Housing Update: Returning Students
July 1, 2020
Dear Returning Billikens,
I hope this email finds you and your family healthy. As we look ahead to the fall semester, many of you have asked about how the COVID-19 pandemic, and SLU’s response to it, will impact your fall housing assignment.
These are important questions. As you can imagine, COVID-19 is changing how we think about living and learning on campus. Although you already received an initial housing assignment, it is important to understand that some assignments may still change as a result of University decisions about how best to keep residents healthy and safe on campus.
If your housing assignment needs to change, you will receive a follow-up email from Housing and Residence Life shortly. That message will ask you to complete a brief form to provide additional information to help us determine your new housing assignment. Please respond as quickly as possible, as we will be making updated housing assignments on a rolling basis as the new information is received.
If you do not receive a follow-up email from Housing and Residence Life requesting additional information, your housing assignment does not need to be changed as part of our COVID-19 housing plans. Only students whose housing assignment will change will receive a notification.
Below is important information about how Saint Louis University is preparing for students to live in residence safely this fall. In order to protect the health and safety of all members of our campus community –– including the staff and faculty who work, teach, clean, and serve food in our residence halls –– we are implementing a number of safeguards that will impact how, and how many, students live on campus. Additionally, it may be helpful to know that we worked closely with public health experts, including University research faculty and the local St. Louis Health Department, to arrive at our housing plan for the fall.
We recognize the pandemic may lead some of you to shift your plans to be on campus this fall and instead choose to take classes online. Some of you may have pre-existing health conditions that increase the severity of COVID-19, if you were to be infected. Others may live in geographic locations that make it impossible to travel to the U.S. or to St. Louis this fall. There are good reasons why students may opt to learn fully online this fall, and SLU is committed to finding the best option for you and your family.
For those of you who have exemption requests, you will need to submit the residency exemption form in mySLU and submit any associated documentation to the Department of Housing and Residence Life. Please do not make arrangements for alternate housing until you are notified by Saint Louis University that an exception has been granted.
We also are committed to providing many opportunities for you to connect virtually, so that you continue to feel like a full member of our community, even if you can’t be here in person.
We appreciate you. We are excited to welcome you back to campus. We’re grateful for your patience as we navigate this very fluid and challenging situation.
Debra Rudder Lohe, Ph.D. (she/her/hers)
Interim Vice President for Student Development
SLU’s Approach to Housing this Fall
Like many universities, SLU modeled a number of different COVID-19-prevention scenarios for what safe housing could look like this fall. We considered a singles-only model, as well as models that involved not leaving vacant the buildings that have community bathrooms, among other things. We also considered the potential community and public health impacts on our students who were no longer able to live on campus if we were to decide on a significant reduction in housing occupancy.
This fall, we will reduce housing occupancy by just over 10%. We developed our housing plans through close consultation with our own public health experts and with the City of St. Louis Health Department. Key features of the fall housing plan are as follows:
- Rooms in residence halls that would typically house three or four students (i.e., triples and quads) will be limited to two students each (doubles).
- Residence halls with community bathrooms and showers will be occupied mostly as usual (with the exception of reduced capacity for triples and quads).
- Apartments and residence halls with suite-style bathrooms will be assigned using a formula of two students per bathroom.
- Some apartments will be left vacant for isolation and quarantine space.
- Strict public health safeguards will be adopted for all on-campus housing, as outlined below.
This model allows us to ensure that most residential students can continue living on campus, which was an important consideration during our planning. Significant reductions in occupancy would either force large numbers of students to find off-campus housing with less-rigorous public health protocols, or would make it impossible for us to invite all students back to campus for in-person courses.
While many may find double occupancy or the use of buildings with community bathrooms surprising, all of the health experts we consulted felt these assignments –– combined with the University’s adoption of critical public health safeguards, including specific safeguards for residential buildings –– were appropriate. Those experts also reminded us that all students, staff and faculty must actively perform a collection of COVID-19-prevention safeguards — not merely one or two of our choosing — to help keep each other safe, especially community members who could be severely harmed by COVID-19.
We are excited to be able to invite students back to campus this fall, even as we understand that changing public health conditions could once again require us to close down residence halls and pivot to remote learning. We hope the critical public health safeguards we are implementing will allow us to have as much time together on campus as possible.
Key Public Health Safeguards Related to Housing
In addition to the public health safeguards Dr. Pestello has announced, we also are adding housing-specific safeguards, which include:
- Common areas in residence halls will be reconfigured for reduced seating and occupancy. In some cases, common areas may need to be closed for the fall.
- There will be no guests or visitors allowed in residential spaces during the fall term.
- We will modify our move-in process:
- Move-in will take place over 3 days instead of 1, with staggered blocks to avoid large groups in close proximity.
- We will enforce a limit of 2 move-in “helpers” per student.
- There will be health screening prior to entering residential buildings.
- We will require face masks for all those who enter residential buildings (with exceptions only for those with ADA accommodations).
- Face masks will be required in all common areas, including hallways, elevators, laundry rooms, etc.
- Entry into residential buildings will not be allowed without a face mask (exceptions only for ADA accommodations). Until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say otherwise, clear face shields are not a substitute for face masks.
- There will be increased/enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of public and community spaces, including community bathrooms.
- Hand sanitizer stations have been installed at all residential building entrances.
- Residents will have access to sanitizing wipes for common areas and high-traffic surfaces.
- Plexiglass barriers will be installed at residence reception desks.
- Training on public health measures, COVID-19 symptoms, and appropriate response will be provided for all staff who live in residential buildings, including student staff.
- Isolation and quarantine spaces will be set aside for on-campus students who have symptoms, who are COVID-19-positive, or who are exposed to someone who is COVID-19-positive. Whenever possible, however, we will encourage students to isolate back home. Students who need to move to isolation or quarantine space will receive daily attention from Student Health Center personnel, have meals delivered by our campus partners, and receive regular outreach from various offices on campus to ensure they have what they need.
We also are exploring numerous additional safeguards including: online educational modules for students; a social contract/oath of protection for students, staff, and faculty; and other measures.
Financial Aid Considerations
Changes in housing assignment may impact a student’s financial aid package. Students who may need to be exempted from living and learning on campus due to health concerns should contact Student Financial Services (Phone: 314-977-2350 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) to understand the potential impact of this decision on their financial aid packages.