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Highlanders move into campus housing under new safety rules

September 29, 2020
Author: Imran Ghori
September 29, 2020

It was a different kind of moving day experience for UC Riverside students beginning the fall quarter.

Instead of crowds of students and their families packed into parking lots amid a buzz of activity, a small number of students and their families unloaded their belongings in staggered 30-minute intervals over four days from Sept. 25-28. Their appointments were scheduled in advance to avoid crowding.

Parents hugged their children and said their goodbyes outside, as students wheeled their possessions in large blue carts into the residence halls. Family and friends were not allowed inside the buildings.

Those were among a series of safety precautions for campus housing as around 800 moved into the residence halls and 600 new residents into campus apartments this quarter. 

Fewer students will be living on campus, with reduced capacity in each residence hall and only one student per room. They will be required to monitor their symptoms, stay in small groups, and will be tested up to twice a week for the coronavirus.

The campus had three check-in areas for students moving in this past weekend at Pentland Hills, Lothian, and the new Dundee residence hall. Students were required to present proof of testing negative for COVID-19 -- with a test taken within the past 14 days – before being given keys to their room.

Lisa Laws, assistant director of Housing Services, said families dropping off students have been supportive of the rules, knowing they’re in place to protect their health and safety.

“It’s always an emotional day,” she said. “This year it’s even more so because of the circumstances.”

Gabe Toro, 19, a second-year student, said he supports the rules. Toro said he was thrilled to be among the first group of students moving into Dundee and glad to be back on campus.

“I just want to get the full UCR experience and come back to the campus I know and love,” he said, unloading his belongings with his parents, James and Laura Cruz of San Clemente, from their car.

Each student was given a swag bag that included hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, and a forehead thermometer. Resident advisors provided details on mealtimes, a virtual welcome planned for that evening, and an app students can use for future activities.

Residential Life put together a busy schedule of virtual activities for the students’ first week with advisor check-ins, meet-and-greets with faculty members, informational sessions with campus groups, and several social events like movie and game nights. A 23-page booklet provided a guide to local resources and activities.

Jaquelyn Gonzalez, a fourth-year student, was among several resident advisors guiding students through the move-in, checking them in and providing instructions on where to go. Advisors moved in two weeks earlier and received training on new health and safety protocols.

“It’s different,” said Gonzalez, who was assigned to Dundee and is in her second year as an advisor. “I’m excited to be a mentor.”