Utica, NY - March 23 was the last time students stepped into their dorm rooms. This week Utica College residents began to move out for the remainder of the semester and are doing so as safely as possible.
In order to practice social distancing, the college's process is like your local grocery store - one student in, one student out. Masks and gloves are mandatory for those who are entering the residence halls and collecting their belongings.
“We are scheduled seven days a week. We're trying to be very flexible by limiting the number of people that can be in the residence and move your items at any given moment. Literally if you think about it a residence hall is approximately anywhere from 200 to 300 rooms. We’re allowing four to five people max to be inside to that residence hall every two hours," says Shad Crowe, Director of Emergency Management at Utica College.
Because of travel restrictions throughout the country, students who are not from the Central New York area, don’t know if and when they'll be able to go back to campus.
“We had a target date of June 1, says Crowe, “and we would love to have everybody have removed everything by then but we know that it is not feasible for everyone so we're making arrangements for people to come mid-June/July if necessary, and if they can't get here we’ll store their belongings until they do come back.”
While moving out of college is usually a bittersweet moment, this situation intensifies that energy. Crowe says that there was a different energy when the students returned to campus and it was only to grab their belongings.
“The energy, everybody's a little disappointed. I feel like they lost an experience but they may never get back and you can't do anything other than except that and it's a really hard pill to swallow,” adds Crowe.
Utica College has tentatively postponed its 2020 may commencement ceremony until the first week of August with intentions of resuming in-person classes in the fall. The harsh reality is that some institutions in the northeast (ie. Boston University) have already considered closing campus until January 2021.
“I think will know more in June. I think that as a data becomes clearer and our intelligence is better we can make a better informed decision of that. But if a lot of them can return to campus we're going to prepare for a return like normal, but the new normal. If something changes or something prevents that we have plans in place that will help us transition to another option,” states Crowe.
Utica College President Laura Casamento says, “We have every hope and intention of resuming in-person classes in the fall, provided doing so doesn’t endanger the safety of our community or the public at large.”