Providing access to critical information, the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International (ACUHO-I
) has been a great resource for all of us to turn to via websites, virtual roundtables, and webinars. Their shared sessions are recorded for ongoing review and distribution and offer discussion on the full spectrum of daunting back-to-school issues, even recommendations for cleaning products and new approaches to sanitation.
ACUHO-I represents decisions being made at an advanced level of authority within each institution, county, and state. We know that university presidents, state commissioners of higher education, and state governors are acting with guidance and direction not only from individual state and city statutes, but also from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Housing/residence life folks, who have always been open and willing to share their experiences, questions, and challenges with one another, have become a think tank for COVID-19 student housing triage. Within the ACUHO-I forums, they’ve been discussing a never-ending laundry list of topics that include ways to support the six-foot rule in residence hall rooms, bathrooms, and hallways, as well as ideas for reconfiguring or closing common areas, and otherwise modifying facilities to ensure physical distancing.
At NAC, we’ve been conducting interviews with individual higher education client partners while offering our support, assistance, and facility modification experience. It was heartening, yet unsurprising to learn that several had already successfully reached out to their campus resources and beyond. Collaboratively, they developed several implementation scenarios for Fall 2020, but the challenge to understand what COVID-19 might look like throughout the first part of the school year remains. The evolving status of the virus has and will determine whether Plan A, B, or C is most appropriate.
Tammie Brown Butler,
Former MSU Chief Housing Officer