Students living the “new normal” in residence halls

COVID dining center
Students still living on campus can choose from a variety of menu options, while observing social distancing, at The Foundry.

The new normal for the nearly 600 students still living in Colorado State University’s residence halls during the COVID-19 pandemic is anything but business as usual. However, Housing & Dining Services is doing everything possible to ensure that the students – and the staff serving them – are healthy and safe.

“Throughout our pandemic planning execution, our goal is to make sure the residents have what they need to thrive the rest of this semester,” said Laura Giles, associate executive director for Housing & Dining Services.

While President Joyce McConnell officially moved all operations virtual except for essential in-person duties on March 19, a few campus residence halls remain open. The bulk of residence hall students – nearly 5,000 of them – have already moved out or are in the process; those remaining must do so by May 16. (The stay-at-home order imposed by Gov. Jared Polis March 25 does not affect move out; students can keep their time slots which they signed up for and move out as planned.)

University apartments remain open year-round, as they typically do.

Many students, many stories

Those still living on campus are doing so for various reasons. Many are international students unable to get home during the pandemic, or who chose to remain because their home areas have been hit hard by the virus. Others remain because they don’t have access to the high-speed internet they will need to continue their coursework online. And others are staying to continue internships or research projects.

All remaining students are being encouraged to engage in safe practices: social distancing, thorough hand washing, and avoiding gathering in groups. Meanwhile, the employees working in residence halls and in The Foundry – the lone dining center still open – are going the extra mile to maintain sanitary conditions for eating and living.

Keeping things clean, safe

In addition to the regular daily cleaning in residence halls, staff will give extra attention to cleaning high-touch areas like door handles, elevator buttons, etc. There have been some adjustments in staffing to improve social distancing, but there has been no reduction in the quality of service.

“We are figuring out different ways to do things and building on the strength and culture of our organization,” said Carolyn Bell, director of the Housing Services Center. “Our frontline staff are an example of positivity and commitment. Many of us also have a renewed outlook on how great it is to work at CSU. In difficult times, we rely on each other much more, learn to trust each other even more and only strengthen our organization as a whole.”

Meals on the go

As for students eating at The Foundry, all meals are served to-go with compostable containers and utensils. Although there aren’t as many meal options as when the facility is fully operational, there’s still plenty of variety of hot and cold items to meet a range of dietary needs.

Once students get their meals they are encouraged to practice social distancing and not congregate. The seating areas are closed. The Foundry is cleaned and sanitized following each meal.

“We are incredibly proud of our staff during this unprecedented time. They are going above and beyond to make sure our residents are well-cared for in this uncertain time,” said Nick Sweeton, associate executive director for Housing & Dining Services.