COVID-19 HRL UPDATE AND FAQ
Updates for On-Campus Housing for Spring 2021
Dear Students and Families,
As we look to the Fall 2020 semester at UTEP, we explored ways to make the housing communities safe and welcoming for all students. Since then, we continued to find ways to uphold our mission: to foster a safe, high-impact, supportive and inclusive community that promotes student success and development. This is what our team has kept in mind as we work hard to create ways for students to have a successful fall semester and prepare to welcome new residents for Spring 2021.
This email contains information about our commitment to the residential community, how the semester will look, some move-in details, safety measures in place for all residents, and next steps. Our plan is based on CDC, state and local public health guidance as well as UT System and University guidance.
Students will be assigned to a private bedroom. Although apartments will continue to house 1-4 residents, each student will have their own bedroom. For those students who do not already have a housing assignment, we will use the housing style preference list from their submitted housing application and assign students one of the following apartments:
Miner Canyon: 4-bedroom for 4 people
Miner Canyon: 1-person efficiency
Miner Village: 4-bedroom for 4 people
Miner Village: 2-bedroom for 2 people
Miner Village: 1-person efficiency
Miner Heights: 2-bedroom for 2 people
Miner Heights: 1-bedroom for 1 person
Common Spaces: Occupancy Limits /Distancing Requirements
For each of the following spaces, staff are evaluating maximum occupancy levels based on social distancing requirements. Housing is also reducing the amount of furniture in these areas to allow for appropriate occupancy:
- Laundry Rooms - Limit the number of students in each laundry room completing laundry. Signs on occupancy limits and social distancing will be posted.
- Study rooms - Limit study tables and chairs. Signs on occupancy limits and social distancing will be posted.
- Computer Labs - Limit the number of students in each lab. Signs on occupancy limits, social distancing and instructions for sanitizing keyboards and workstations will be posted.
- Recreation equipment (pool tables, table tennis, and television areas) - Limited number of students. Signs on social distancing and sanitation instructions will be posted.
Hand sanitizer will be available and located at the front desks and other high traffic areas.
Cleaning and Sanitation of Apartments:
Prior to students returning to housing, staff have been thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing apartments.
Students will be required to clean their own rooms, bathroom and kitchen regularly and take trash to the area dumpsters. On their roommate agreement document, all residents will agree on cleaning assignments. They also will acknowledge on the roommate agreement that regular cleaning will take place by all roommates. Regular cleaning requirements will be randomly checked every three to four weeks by Housing staff.
- Cleaning supplies will be provided at front desks for checkout if needed.
- Videos will be available on how to clean and placed on our website.
Cleaning and Sanitation of Common Spaces:
Staff have performed extensive cleaning and sanitation of common spaces in preparation for students’ return to campus. Beyond the standard daily cleaning of public spaces, a disinfecting schedule is being implemented. High-traffic areas such as community lounges, study rooms, and laundry rooms throughout the complexes will be cleaned more often. Common touch points such as elevator buttons, light switches, handrails, and faucets are being disinfected often as well.
Education and Signage:
Staff are installing plastic shields at all front desk locations in all housing areas and will display appropriate signage inside and outside the facilities.
Students will participate in an extensive educational program that will highlight the importance of social distancing, effective cleaning practices, wearing face coverings and shared responsibilities – Miners Take Care of Miners!
All Miners are required to wear face coverings while in public areas, including:
- Common spaces
- Front desks
- Office suites (masks not required in individual offices when guests are not present)
- Study rooms
- Computer labs
- Open and closed lounges
Face coverings will not be required in the following areas:
- Personal office
- Personal apartment
Isolation of Symptomatic/COVID-19 Positive Students
Students who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19 are expected to immediately seek services through a health care provider and report their symptoms to Environmental Health and Safety at COVIDAction@utep.edu, and a housing professional.
There are currently 16 apartments set aside for on-campus isolation if a student is symptomatic and unable to return home. These units are furnished to provide a brief, comfortable stay. Housing staff will work closely with a team of professionals across campus to support the student during this time.
Once a student leaves the unit, Housing will wait 72 hours prior to sending in a disinfecting team to the unit.
All residents have access to the Student Health and Wellness Center, located in Union Building East. The center offers telehealth consultations via phone. Students will receive information about the services of the center at check-in.
Historically, the residence halls opened the weekend prior to the first day of class and students were able to move in when it suited them, many showing up on the first possible day. To allow a safer approach to move-in with greater social distancing in the interest of the health and safety of all Miners, families, and staff, move-in will be extended. Students will be assigned a day and time to move in between January 16, 2021 to January 18, 2021. Students will received their move-in day early December 2020.
For health and safety reasons, a limited number of early arrivals will be allowed. Requests must be submitted via Mine Tracker at least 48 hours prior to the requested move-in day. Submission does not guarantee approval and therefore travel plans should not be made without receiving written approval from Housing and Residence Life for an early arrival.
Policies, Procedures and Housing Contract
For the health, safety and well-being of students, staff and our community, the housing contract and Resident Handbook have been updated. This includes the guest/visitor policy. For the fall and spring semester, the guest and visitor policy will be suspended. Similar to El Paso city public health recommendations, no one besides the residents of the apartment will be allowed within.
Additionally, students living on campus are strongly discouraged from leaving the University area for the duration of the fall semester to limit exposure to those they visit elsewhere and limit the exposure they may bring back to the campus. If students do leave the University area and suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19, the student will be required to report this exposure to Environmental Health and Safety at COVIDAction@utep.edu and the appropriate Housing staff member.
On-Campus Housing Will Remain Open
Currently there is no plan to close UTEP housing facilities early. If there is an emergency event and the University makes the decision to continue to provide housing, students may still decide to cancel their Housing Contract by moving out. In this case, the Housing Contract will remain in full effect and the student will be held accountable for all applicable fees through the end of the contract (May 15, 2021).
A Continued Commitment to Your Health and Safety
The safety of all Miners is our No. 1 priority. We are following CDC, state, local as well as UT System and University guidelines, and are constantly modifying our operations based on the evolving recommendations.
To help you prepare for the next chapter in your life, we want to invite you to a virtual Housing and Residence Life and the Student Recreation Center presentation. We will cover the benefits of living on campus, the housing application process, and more! Your presentation will be presented live, by a Housing and Residence Life staff member who will be able to answer any questions you may have about living on-campus and what it's like to live the ultimate college experience.
For the list of dates and times and link to the Live sessions click HERE
What’s the good news?
The good news is that Housing and Residence Life is reopening and students will have the opportunity to live on campus in the fall. Research continually shows that students who live on campus have higher GPAs, greater levels of engagement and satisfaction, continue their college journeys at higher numbers, and graduate faster. Living on campus provides the opportunity to focus on academics while continuing to build new networks on campus.
Opening housing during a global pandemic presents both challenges and opportunities. Our mission is to foster a safe, high-impact, supportive and inclusive community that promotes student success and development. For that reason, we have made the decision to change room-style options available for Fall 2020. The decision was made to allow students to live on campus while still being able to follow CDC, UT System, and UTEP safety guidelines.
Can I still apply to live on campus?
Yes, we receive applications every day. The demand to live on campus is strong and we are processing room assignments as quickly as we can. Processing continues all summer, so don’t be alarmed if there is a bit of time before you hear from us.
Does Housing and Residence Life plan to reduce occupancy in residence halls?
We have made the decision to eliminate our shared-bedroom options. This won’t reduce our occupancy dramatically but will allow us to ensure that students have the ability to keep a safe distance from others in their apartment.
How can I request to live in a single room?
Students expressed a preference room type when they apply for housing. While we take those preferences into consideration when making room assignments, we make assignments based on the date and time an application is submitted. Assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis, and we can’t guarantee that students will be assigned to the specific room type they requested.
Will I be able to have guests in my room?
At this time, no guests are allowed in the students’ apartments, even if the guests also live on campus.
What will life be like in on-campus housing this Spring 2021?
We provide programming, events and activities, as well as educational and professional opportunities only available to on-campus residents. We are committed to providing students with a fun and engaging place to call home.
What support staff is available?
Each community has an assigned full-time staff member, the Residence Life Coordinator, who is responsible for the operations and residential health in the community. A team of student Resident Assistants (RAs) live in the communities as embedded resources for our residents and report to the coordinator. Our maintenance and custodial staff handle the cleaning and support of our physical infrastructure. Our front desk staff provides assistance to students after hours who need to pick up packages and mail, submit maintenance requests or ask questions. Our department has on-call staff available 24/7 to support residents if any issues arise outside of normal business hours.
When will I receive my room assignment?
Students who have submitted an application, paid the $200 deposit and submitted the Housing Contract addendum will receive a new or updated room assignment in late November. We will continue to process room assignments weekly until we have reached 100% occupancy.
What will be expected of students living in on-campus housing?
Student behavior is one of the most important factors in protecting our campus from the spread of COVID-19. Students will need to sign an addendum to the housing contract. This addendum commits students to a number of practices that are vitally important, which may include wearing a face covering, observing physical distancing practices while in public spaces, and keeping their apartment clean. All of these requirements are based on the current guidance from the CDC. If students have underlying health issues that they believe put them at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, living on campus in a dense community environment may not be the best choice at this time.
Will the University provide me with cleaning supplies and sanitization products during my time living on campus?
A cleaning solvent is available at the front desk of each property. In order to keep each apartment and bathroom clean, we ask that students bring a supply of cleaning and sanitizing products to campus.
We will ensure that our custodial and maintenance teams have ample cleaning supplies on hand to clean community spaces daily in accordance with current CDC guidelines.
Will I need to wear a mask while on campus?
Yes, students will need to wear a face covering while moving around campus and in their residential community, especially in spaces where physical distancing cannot be accomplished. Visit the CDC website for guidance on the use of face coverings. We ask that each student bring face coverings with them.
What happens if a resident exhibits symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19?
If a student is exhibiting any symptoms or feeling ill, we ask that they visit a health care professional. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, we ask that they follow the instructions of their health care provider.
When is Move-In Day?
Move-in days are scheduled for January 16 - January 18, 2021 . Students will be sent information as soon as we have finalized a personal check-in time. Expect to see this email later in July.
What do I do if I applied for housing but no longer want to live on campus?
Students can cancel their housing application through your Resident Portal. However, we encourage students to call us or e-mail us before canceling their contract. There are a lot of benefits to living on campus. If students or families have any questions or doubts about living on campus, call us and our staff can guide students through each option.
This is the updated contract for all Fall 2020-Spring 2021 residents.
These are the changes from the originally posted contract October 2020-early June 2020.