Here’s How FIU Housing is Attempting to Prevent COVID-19 Cases

FIU University Towers picture taken from Flickr

Angela Rivas / Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of FIU students’ lives, including residential housing life. 

This past fall semester, students who decided to live on-campus housing had to adhere to health guidelines provided by FIU. 

There are currently 1,800 students living on campus, as opposed to 3,597 in fall of 2019, according to Andrew Naylor, senior director of housing and residential life. 

Naylor said 1,630 of these students are living at the Modesto Maidique campus and 170 at the Biscayne Bay campus.

There are many efforts in place to limit the spread of the virus, including requiring masks, closing off community spaces, and disinfecting residence halls daily with electrostatic foggers, according to Naylor.

But even with measures in place, outbreaks are inevitable. 

As of Dec. 10, Naylor said there have been 99 positive COVID-19 cases among housing students, 59 of those being student athletes.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 on campus can choose to isolate in University Apartments, in buildings L and K.

According to Naylor, University Apartments were chosen because they were deemed safer to limit contact with other students. 

 “Each unit has its own air system that is not shared in the hallway to any other units and it has exterior entrances,” said Naylor. 

According to Karen Burke, lead contact tracer for the covid response team, students who test positive must isolate for 10 days as long as they have no fever and an improvement in symptoms.

Those who have come in close contact with an infected student must also quarantine in University Apartments for 14 days. 

Throughout isolation and quarantine, students are only allowed to leave to do laundry, get tested, or to see a health provider. 

If students have a meal plan with FIU, they get food delivered to them from 8th Street Campus Kitchen once a day. 

“They can have a hot dinner, cold breakfast, and cold lunch delivered to them each day,” said Naylor.

He also explained that if they do not have a meal plan they are allowed to use food delivery services and kitchens in the building. 

While isolating, students are not given any medication but are warned of concerning symptoms and are told to reach out to a health provider if they experience them. 

After isolation, students return to their dorms and the rooms they were isolated in are disinfected with electrostatic foggers by the FIU housekeeping staff.

With ongoing COVID-19 cases rising, some worry the repopulation plan of spring 2021 will be a catalyst for more cases.

The repopulation plan includes offering in person classes, more students in housing, and expanding dining halls in relation to student demand.

“My concerns are that having more people on campus, statistically, we likely would have more cases,” expressed Burke. “I think we can reopen safely to some extent by taking recommended measures and making sure they are being upheld.” 

But a student living on campus, Alexander Sutton, believes that it is necessary to repopulate FIU. 

“I know that one of the best parts of FIU is the fact that there are so many people around who give the campus so much life,” he explains. 

Sutton feels content with the protocols housing has implemented to keep students safe and feels that the enforcement has been enough; but, he still has concerns. 

“I do hear there are COVID outbreaks in my own dorm, 2 floors up, and when that happens, it’s a little nerve-racking,” he said. 

But, even with the pandemic, he still believes that “living on campus has been a fantastic decision. The pandemic has obviously impacted our social lives, but it hasn’t prevented anyone from getting the college experience.” 

For the spring 2021 semester, there is a prediction of 2,200 to 2,300 students living in MMC alone, according to Naylor, and new protocols in place to prevent outbreaks.  

“We are going to do mandatory surveillance testing in spring, so random groups of students in housing every week would have to test,” Naylor said. 

Also, they are requiring students staying in dorms to get tested before the first week of school and it must be a negative result. 

These new and pre-existing measures will help ensure the safety of students and keep outbreaks to a minimum, they say. 

“Since we can’t really control what happens within the community, these are the best things we can do while on campus,” said Burke. 

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