STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Students have started moving onto the OSU campus for the upcoming school year, and the university is working to ensure their safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
OSU officials had several safety precautions in place as students began moving into campus dormitories on Friday.
As part of OSU’s safety plan, only 850 students can move in at one time across 31 residence halls, according to an OSU news release.
Students and staff are required to wear a mask any time they are in a public area or outside their assigned living quarters. University staff provided each student a mask upon check-in, according to the news release.
The university also required all on-campus students to complete a COVID-19 test prior to checking in to campus housing. University Health Services provided free testing via stations at designated check-in sites, which are capable of processing 30 tests per hour.
“Students were encouraged to isolate themselves until receiving their test results and all on-campus residents were required to submit those results to UHS,” the news release states.
Dr. Leon McClinton, OSU’s Director of Housing and Residential Life, said Friday proved to be a good start in getting students moved in safely.
“We have spent over three months preparing for this semester. We know that it’s an unprecedented time,” McClinton said.
University officials are emphasizing safety over socializing.
“We are designed and wired to bring students together and help them meet people and connect. Entering this year, it feels a bit foreign to us because now we’re trying to discourage large gatherings,” McClinton said. “It’s really unfortunate that we have to do these things, but our number one priority is keeping our students safe, so we’re doing everything we can to try to minimize the spread of this disease.”
The university has also taken the following safety measures:
• Installed social distancing markers;
• Installed plexiglass shields on desks;
• Placed centrally located hand sanitizer stations in the halls, designated entrance and exit doors;
• Designated up-and-down stairwells;
• Installed new air filters in air handling units;
• Placed signs reminding everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands and socially distance;
• Disinfected and sanitized all residential and community spaces by using hospital grade disinfectant prior to move-in;
• Doubled the frequency of community bathroom cleanings during the week;
• Added weekend cleanings;
• Reduced seating occupancy in lounges and public spaces that may entice students to act against the interest of their own health and that of the university community.
OSU officials also launched a “vigorous campaign” to educate students on what they can do to protect themselves and others.
“Part of that campaign is the Cowboy Promise to Protect, a pledge affirming the shared responsibility of everyone in the Cowboy family to safeguard the health of the entire campus community,” the news release states.
McClinton said while this is an exciting time for the university and incoming students, safety remains the focus.
“The pandemic toll on our campus is going to be heavily influenced by how our students conduct themselves on a daily basis. We’re hoping that we can educate and help our students understand the importance of wearing facial coverings at all times in public settings, washing their hands often and then also maintaining adequate distancing between themselves and others,” McClinton said. “We added language to our housing contract this summer in regard to COVID-19 and behaviors we expect and how students need to wear masks when they’re in public settings within our residential communities. If there are habitual offenders who do not want to comply on a consistent basis, we have the authority to remove them from housing. We’re taking this very seriously.”
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