Not all USD students can go home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are international, while others won’t have sufficient internet access to complete classes online. Once the majority of students have moved out, USD plans to consolidate the ones who can’t leave into two residence halls for the remainder of the semester.
Kate Fitzgerald, director of University Housing, said international students, students without access to sufficient internet, students who work in Vermillion and students with unstable home lives are all allowed to stay on campus.
USD Housing is directing all students who are unable to leave campus to fill out application forms to transfer to new housing until the end of the semester.
Fitzgerald said the risk of students getting sick is low as long as they follow safety procedures.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge to social distance when you’re living in a residence hall,” Fitzgerald said. “It will be okay for those students living here as long as they can practice what the CDC is recommending.”
Housing initially planned to consolidate students in Burgess-Norton and Coyote Village but reconsidered after finding the number of rooms in those halls was higher than the number of students USD expects to house. Housing will decide where students will be transferred once they know how many students will be staying on campus, Fitzgerald said.
Over seventy students have applied for on-campus housing through the end of the semester.
Ashmita Ghosh, a Resident Assistant at North Complex, is an international student from India. She said going home is not a possibility in the midst of COVID-19.
Ghosh is currently helping residents move out. Even though fewer students will remain on campus, Ghosh said she will continue her duties as an RA once she moves to a new dorm.
Taking precautions for COVID-19, Ghosh said, has become easier now that students are taking classes remotely.
“The campus has become very quiet and isolated,” Ghosh said. “Thankfully, because there are fewer people around, it’s easier to social distance.”
Fitzgerald said housing will continue custodial and mail services. Depending on how many students stay on campus, desk services may also be provided. Housing will not host any gatherings, but Fitzgerald said Housing may host online events.
Meal services will also be available to students through Aramark at the MUC.
“It’s definitely going to be a different existence than it was prior to COVID-19,” Fitzgerald said.