by, Madalyn Johnson & Victor Franco, Web Editor & Staff Writer
The spring semester welcomed new changes to move-in policies as Manhattan College followed new COVID-19 guide- lines for colleges made by the CDC and NY Department of Health, making this move-in more strenuous and difficult for students.
Abiding by New York state rules, Manhattan College took drastic measures when planning the return of the student body, which made the move-in process differ from the fall.
Peter McHugh, director of Media Relations and Strategic Communications, explained that Manhattan College began by categorizing residential students into two different groups, group A and group B.
“Group A students were international students and students from the 44 states that don’t border New York, and then Group B students were a large majority of our students which were from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania Massachusetts, and Vermont,” McHugh said.
For the spring 2021 move- in, all students and employees were required to submit proof of a PCR test taken in advance of their arrival on campus.
Group A was instructed to submit their test results 72 hours before they arrived in NY and afterward, they were required to quarantine for three days. On the fourth day of their quarantine, students had to complete a second test. If test results could not be submitted in 72 hours, a student’s quarantine period was extended to 10 days. Group B students were informed to submit a PCR test result seven days before moving-in and on their arrival date, required to take another COVID-19 test.
McHugh says the rules and protocols for move-in were more complex this semester in response to guidelines released by multiple organizations.
“We’re making sure that any resident student knows that they tested negative and that all their roommates have tested negative. So that was a big part of the testing protocol for this semester, and again that’s done in accordance with New York State guidelines, that’s done in consultation with higher ed, the higher ed consortium that we are part of, The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.”
Along with testing protocols, new health guidelines affected how many quarantine spaces Manhattan could offer for students on campus, with each individual now being required to quarantine in their room.
About 45 students stayed in hotels during the quarantine and at the beginning of move- in dates, starting Jan. 20, 17 students stayed in Horan progressively as more students in group A were making arrangements for their flights and submission of test results, the number of quarantined students housed in Horan Hall.
Charles Clency, the director of Residence Life, talked about how updated guidelines from the CDC and NY Department of Health impacted how many spaces the college could offer to students during move-in.
“So we have well over 50 spaces available. Last year, or in the fall, we had 104 spaces in Horan available, but that’s because we were allowed to put two people in them, and now we only are allowed to put one person per bathroom. So that cut our spaces down in half,” Clency said.
Jacqueline Martin, who works as a coordinator for Campus Ministry and Social Action, joined the One Manhattan team in October and assisted quarantined students during the spring move-in.
Despite health guidelines limiting Manhattan College’s housing capacity, Martin shared that the new rules also helped One Manhattan’s move-in process.
“During the spring move in we had students complete their travel quarantine on campus in Horan as well as off-campus at a local hotel to ensure we had enough spaces for everyone to complete their quarantine properly,” Martin said.
“The new guidelines from New York state also made it possible for some students to test out of their quarantine requirement early. This helped us get students moved into their spring assignments in a safe & more efficient way.”
During on-campus quarantine, Residence Life gave students a meal order form from Dining Services to select what they wanted to eat. Meals were delivered to students three times a day. Throughout students’ quarantine, Martin says she and the One Manhattan Team worked hard to ensure all students were satisfied.
“Our main goal is to ensure that students have as positive of an experience as possible while in quarantine. We know that quarantine can be a challenging experience for many of our students, and we do our best to ensure that all of their questions are answered and that they have everything they need during this time.”
Regardless of One Manhattan’s efforts, Clency admits Residence Life and the One Manhattan Team could have been more efficient when sending out information to make move-in less difficult for students.
“I would say it definitely had its challenges because it prevented us from being more proactive, being earlier in getting out notifications about details about the changes. I think it ran extremely well, but I do know that parents and students were frustrated. Several of them were frustrated because the details about what to expect didn’t come out as early.”
Looking back at how successfully Manhattan College administered COVID-19 protocols and reduced the spread of the virus in the fall, Clency says these move-in rules were essential for safety and hopes that Manhattan lasts another full semester.
“Our COVID test percentages were much lower than most colleges, almost every college. We had amazing success, actually, there was no perfection, there is no perfection in this time. So, we had our clusters, regarding students not feel- ing like it was necessary but, I think most of our residents, if not all, are going to be very grateful that we took that extra step in order to make sure they were safe and secure living in the residence halls.”