Breaking News
More () »

Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

College students prepare for dorm life during pandemic

Each university has outlined precautions being taken to ensure students moving into dorms next month can stay as safe as possible.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — As each Iowa university prepares to welcome students onto campus and into dormitories next month, Local 5 is compiling a list of precautions that each school's Department of Residence is taking in response to COVID-19 concerns.


Housing Contract

The University of Iowa included a clause in their student housing contract for students to acknowledge and assume risk for contracting COVID-19.

It says the University "will not be liable for any public health threat to which a student or visitor may be exposed, including but not limited to the transmission of any infectious disease such as COVID-19."


UPDATE (July 17, 2020)

Amid the pandemic, the university's Department of Residence (DOR) has added an addendum to the 2020-21 on-campus housing contract.

In the clause, the university says "...residents acknowledge and understand the risk of possible exposure to and illness from infectious diseases, including COVID-19."

On-site testing for COVID-19

Each student who moves into the dorms at ISU will be tested for COVID-19 on site, one roommate at a time. The second roommate will move in 24 hours after the first roommate has moved in, in order to have test results before the second roommate joins.

Face coverings

Each student will be provided with two face coverings upon check-in.

Expanded move-in process

ISU is working on a spaced out move-in process to allow for COVID-19 testing and a small percentage of people actively moving items around in the building at one time. Updates will be posted here

Extra sanitization measures

  • Sanitizing public spaces twice a day, every day
  • Providing cleaning and sanitizing supplies throughout our hall desks and service enters
  • Adding over 250 hand sanitizing stations across our living spaces
  • Isolation and quarantine spaces are being set up as an additional mitigation strategy
  • ISU Dining is offering more to-go options, contactless payment and, of course, adhering to all rules of food-service establishments

Housing Contract

Iowa State University tells Local 5 they are currently drafting their housing contract that is specific to COVID-19, and will provide one as soon as it becomes available.


Extended Move-in dates

The University of Northern Iowa is offering two options for students to move in. Below is information from their website.

Option #1
All students can sign up for a time to bring their belongings to campus anytime from August 3 to 11. This is a drop off and return home option. New students will then return to campus on Friday, August 14 to participate in UNI Now programming. Returning students are able to return to campus anytime on or after Friday, August 14 to stay for the semester. If feasible, we ask that upon your return, only the student comes to campus, having said their good-byes at home.
Option #2
There will be designated move-in times on August 12, 13 and 14 for new students and August 14, 15 and 16 for returning students. These move-in times will afford students the ability to meet social distancing expectations and ensure we do not overload any particular community with additional residents or guests.
Please note that the sign-up times will be two-hour windows and we ask that you bring no more than three guests with you to assist. The process to sign up for a move-in time will be available in July. 

Face shields and masks

All students, including the ones living off-campus, can present their University ID at the University Book store and receive two UNI face coverings as well as a face shield for free.

Housing Contract

Currently, the UNI student housing contract does not include a clause that exempts the university from liability if a student contracts COVID-19.

Student Reaction

Local 5 spoke with students at the public universities who have committed to campus housing in the fall to hear their thoughts.

As Iowa's universities continue to develop their dorm safety precautions each day, three returning students said it's still dorms or bust.

These three students will tell you the perks of living on campus.

"The biggest part is probably community, 3rd year ISU student Madreann Dillon said. 

"It's really good to be close to everything," 4th year student at UNI Austin Korynta said. 

"Your RA, which is your residence assistant, is gonna be your BFF," 2 year student at UNI Rocio Castrejon said. 

But their dorm life this year comes with uncertainty.

"I want to go back but I also am still fearful about stuff that could happen due to COVID still rising," Rocio said. 

Rocio, a second year at UNI and Des Moines native, said the bonds she's made with friends in her dorm outweigh any risk she may feel that comes with living in close quarters.

"Having your friends around even if it is six feet apart is better than nothing," Rocio said. 

UNI joins the other public universities in developing guidelines to keep students safe in campus housing from the moment they move in. 

That means extending the time frame for the move-in process to keep from overcrowding. 

"I'm just excited for this next year," Dillon said. 

At ISU, it's Madreann's third year in the dorms. 

This year, she and every student living on campus at Iowa State will be tested on site for COVID-19. 

The second roommate will move in after the first roommate gets their test results.

"I think it's a smart move to make sure people don't have it when they go," Madreann said. 

As for Austin, this'll be his last year at UNI. 

"I think we're all in a really difficult situation right now," Austin said. 

Like the other two he's got his concerns. 

But they're all stepping carefully and eagerly in what they feel will be the best home for them to continue to grow and learn.

RELATED: Dining out during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here's how to stay safe

RELATED: Live updates: Dowling Catholic cancels softball and baseball seasons, Indianola softball put on hold due to positive tests