Texas Woman’s University will be reinstating the standard residency requirements for first and second-year students starting the 2021-2022 school year after having waived the requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators announced Feb. 19.
Decisions to reinstate on-campus residency requirements centered around discussions among campus administrators of the 2021-2022 school year resuming in-person instruction after about 70% of classes were moved online last fall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Executive Director of Housing and Dining Jill Eckardt said. TWU plans to resume normal in-person capacity for classes but masks will continue to be required, according to the announcement. Administrators are also planning to resume normal student life events including Boo at the U, Block Party and athletic events.
Choosing to restore on-campus housing requirements felt like a necessary decision, as the usual face-to-face classes are expected to return and in-class occupancy will increase, Eckardt said.
“When we finalized the decision, we already knew what the university was doing in regards to academics,” Eckardt said. “Along with the vaccine that has been advertised, it was just a matter of time. We really anticipated, given that more than a million vaccines are coming to the U.S., that a vast majority of students, faculty and staff will be vaccinated by the time we start the fall semester.”
With more student activity on campus, Eckardt said she acknowledges the concerns that may come with more in-person contact, especially among those who may decide to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, despite the rise in in-person contact, Housing and Dining has implemented additional precautions to ensure student safety, Assistant Director of Housing Administrative Services Chloe Jones said.
Jones said that housing will continue to enforce the Pioneer Pact, a student-signed contract that requires residents to agree to practice social distancing, proper health regulations and follow mask mandates. Excessive furniture has been removed from residence hall lobbies to promote social distancing and, while select social events will be held in-person, they will also be streamed for those who may not feel comfortable attending physically. There will continue to be take-home events where participants arrive and are given an activity, such as a DIY, that they can take with them and complete in their dorms or at home.
“We believe our students have been safe while they have been on campus, they’ve had a variety of choices in their student lives and many of them have been very cautious and practicing safety protocols,” Eckardt said.
To accommodate the increase of students on campus, housing has cleared out more rooms in Stark Hall for the expected increase of potential quarantines.
Additionally, housing has set plans for minor renovations in Guinn Hall to create a new front desk and office suite, new blinds and paint during the summer, and hope to soon remodel Stark Hall.
“Over the last decade, we have spent nearly 10 million dollars renovating the residents’ rooms in Guinn Hall, and we hope in the next year or two we can start doing something similar to Stark Hall,” Eckardt said.
For more information on the reinstated requirements, click here.
Gakenia Njenga can be reached via email at gnjenga.twu.edu.
Featured image: Campus file photo by Amber Gaudet.