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Campus during COVID-19: What are students coming back to?

Students have been away from the Colorado State University campus for five months, and while many spaces look the same as ever, students are coming back to a new world. 

Since shutting down in-person operations in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pandemic Preparedness Team has established safety guidelines for students and adjusted the way campus spaces operate. But what does this actually look like for daily student life? 

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During the recovery town halls in July, President Joyce McConnell said that all campus buildings will operate at 50% capacity with 6 feet of distance between all students in classrooms and 12 feet of distance between students and instructors. 

Additionally, the University will require everyone on campus, excluding those with medical or disability exemptions, to wear a face covering and fill out the daily symptom checker found online. 

The daily symptom checker requires that students and employees report their temperatures, whether or not they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been around anyone who has had a positive test, as well as any new symptoms they are experiencing. 

For more information on what to do when you get sick, click here.

Lori Lynn, co-chair of the Pandemic Preparedness Team and associate executive director for the CSU Health Network, said that some thermometers will be given to students living in University housing, but there will not be any place students can go to get their temperature checked if they cannot obtain their own thermometer.

All buildings on campus will have designated doors for entry and exit and markings on the floors to show 6 feet of space.

All buildings and classrooms on campus will have marked entry and exit doors. The Colorado State University campus looks very different during the coronavirus pandemic to account for social distancing protocols. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)

Numbers of students inside buildings will not be counted to keep track of capacity, CSU Police Department Emergency Manager Ken Quintana said.

“For the capacity, it would be hard to know at any one point, just because of people getting out of the Transit Center,” Quintana said. “We’re not going to be able to count for all of them because they basically go through the building to go out onto The Plaza, so we can get the numbers, but we’re really not going to apply it.” 

Instead, Quintana said the University has spoken with Larimer County on this matter and decided to treat spaces like the Lory Student Center similar to the way a mall is run during the pandemic. 

Study spaces around campus will continue to be available to students at a limited capacity. In the LSC and Morgan Library, the number of available seats has been reduced and spaced out to adhere to social distancing. 

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A study space in the Lory Student Center, rearranged to allow for social distancing while studying. The Colorado State University campus looks very different during the coronavirus pandemic to account for social distancing protocols. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)
The space outside the food court at the Lory Student Center sports tape and stickers to help patrons social distance while queueing up. The Colorado State University campus looks very different during the coronavirus pandemic to account for social distancing protocols. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)

Most restaurants in the LSC will be open, and the space around them has been transformed into what Quintana referred to as a “Disneyland maze” to allow for long, socially-distanced lines. Seating outside the food court area is still available.

“The staff here (was) able to create something (where) if the students don’t move everything, they’re going to be able to sit and either study or eat,” Quintana said. “The reason why we have two (chairs) is because if it’s roommates or spouses, they can sit with each other, and they’re not going to take another chair from another table.”

In the A wing of the Andrew G. Clark Building, where students often take large lecture courses, seating is blocked off in much of the lecture hall. 

Quintana said the seating availability in these lecture halls went down from about 270 to 76. Unavailable seats are marked with tape and signage to stop students from using them and to keep appropriate distance between each student. 

Seats in lecture halls have signage to keep students socially distanced. The Colorado State University campus looks very different during the coronavirus pandemic to account for social distancing protocols. (Serena Bettis | The Collegian)

There are sanitizing stations outside each lecture hall and classroom as well, equipped with cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer. 

Lynn said that CSU Facilities Management has enhanced cleaning protocols for classrooms and spaces around campus. 

“In most settings, they are disinfecting thoroughly at least once a day, sometimes twice a day depending on the facility,” Lynn said. “But the idea is that the students will be sanitizing the station as they come in.”

Smaller classrooms will also operate at 50% capacity, with moveable seating and tape on the floors to show 6 feet of distance. 

Instructors are also required to wear face masks or face shields, although the use of face shields should be reserved for cases where a student needs to read an instructor’s lips or the instructor needs to project their voice across a large space. 

Quintana said there are no major changes to the way science laboratories will operate.

“They have the ability to interact a little bit closer with the variance in the county, so with the face shield and the face mask they could do an experiment … (and) they could then step back and discuss it,” Quintana said. 

Computer labs will have spaces marked as unavailable, similar to in the large lecture halls, to ensure 6 feet of distance between students using the computers. Quintana said that the keyboards and mice have also been taken away from these computers, rendering them useless.

To view recommended public health precautions while on campus, visit the University’s COVID-19 recovery website, which gives suggestions for using public restrooms, water fountains and elevators.

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.

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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at editor@collegian.com.

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