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As Emporia State prepares to reopen its campus in August, congregated living is a particular health concern.

“We are not going to have as many people per floor…,” said Cass Coughlin, director of Residential Life. “One of the big things in the housing profession in the U.S. and internationally is limiting the people using a bathroom fixture to four or five which will guide the number of residents we assign to the (dorms). All it means is that there will be five to eight fewer residents per floor in a wing.”

With summer housing applications closed, Coughlin said the college should be able to accommodate more private rooms and limited suite options.

“The four person suites we typically offer in the north and south tower buildings we’ve taken from four to two,” Coughlin said. “Most (students) wanted to have a roommate and live in a double room, but we will see where the final numbers fall at. We anticipated more would request it, then we could accommodate, but the numbers came in under that.”

Despite increased cleaning standards and limited rooms, the risk of an outbreak is still a concern.

“I’m not gonna go so far as to say there will be no positive cases in the residential hall environment, but we feel really good about the steps we are taking,” Coughlin said. “We will have floors identified for quarantine and isolation for students who test positive. We have had plans in place for this when H1N1 happened a little over ten years ago where we developed plans for that. We won’t publicly identify those (floors) so students do not face some type of ‘scarlet letter’ scenario.”

While on-campus dorms fall under residential life, fraternities and sororities fall under student bodies like the Interfraternity Council where students like Edmundo Chacon, senior business management major and vice president of the IFC have to decide how to best prepare.

“I really got involved in (the IFC) because a lot of my fraternity brothers in Sigma Tau Gamma were already involved,” Chacon said. “Our kitchen chef has begun wearing proper equipment and we got a bunch of new (personal protective equipment). It seriously looks as if you were walking into a nursing home…We are trying to be super cautious and responsible. With housing and rooms it's normally six feet apart so that should not be a problem.”

Chacon said that as community leaders it is up to them to be responsible and keep each other safe.

“We are going to be doing temperature checks regularly,” Chacon said. “We are trying to get everyone IFC related to stay up to date on the proper guidelines, make sure we have enough PPE and what we need to do if a brother has gotten it…we are moving everything virtual. Even if a reason to meet in person comes up it will be in smaller groups and we will follow the universities guidelines.”

For more information about the campus return policy visit: www.emporia.edu/covid-19-information/esu-fall-2020-return-campus/facemask-policy/.


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