We have received a lot of questions about living in group housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are answers to a lot of frequently asked questions.
Are any changes being made to the meal plan in light of COVID-19?
For the time being, meals will not be served buffet style. They will be plated in the kitchen by the chef and given to each Brother or distributed by similar means. For social distancing purposes, we do not recommend that the Brothers all eat meals in the dining room or at the same time.
The bathrooms in my chapter’s house are communal, how can I safely use them?
Bathrooms should be cleaned frequently. Faucets, sinks, doorknobs, stall doors and locks, countertops, flush mechanisms, and other frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned with a sanitizing agent at least daily. We are working with each chapter to ensure that its leadership develops a proper cleaning protocol and stocks the proper supplies. It may be a good idea to assign people to specific showers/stalls as well as specific shower times. Limiting exposure by frequently cleaning and avoiding having a large number of people in the bathroom at the same time is the practice recommended by the CDC. We will also be installing foot-pulls on many communal bathroom doors at the house so they are easier to open without using your hands.
Will move-in be different this year?
While we are still putting together the exact details, it’s safe to say that move-in will be slightly different than normal. We are asking that masks covering your nose and mouth be worn at all times for your protection and the protection of others. We encourage frequent hand cleaning and will have sanitizer stations set up to help with that. We will make more specific determinations on a school by school basis but the objective is to have everybody move things in as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Will you be providing any cleaning supplies for move-in?
We are working on having a small amount of cleaning supplies available so that after move-in has finished, the house can be cleaned and the chapter has time to acquire their stock of supplies for the semester. Additionally, we are setting up hand sanitizer stations at several places in the house.
Will you be providing cleaning supplies throughout the year?
Residents, in coordination with chapter leadership will still be responsible for the cleanliness of their house and for acquiring cleaning supplies. We are communicating with each Chapter to make sure that they can increase their cleaning budget and are purchasing the proper products. In addition, we have stocked some supplies in our storage facility that will be available if and only if there are supply chain interruptions that prevent the availability of supplies due to a resurgence of COVID-19.
Will you be providing hand sanitizer?
We have installed hand sanitizer stations at the house so that all the chapter needs to do is fill them. We will provide each chapter with several gallons of sanitizer at the start of the year.
How are you handling cleaning?
Residents, in coordination with chapter leadership will still be responsible for the cleanliness of their house. We have provided each chapter’s house manager with cleaning guidelines from the CDC and are working with chapter executive boards to make sure they have an adequate cleaning program in place (either with a janitorial contractor, a chapter chore list, or a combination thereof). We will be checking in with them frequently to make sure that the house is being cleaned.
Will you be providing masks?
By now, most people own facemasks and we recommend that each member bring a supply of their preferred masks to campus in the fall.
What happens if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 during the school year?
If there is a resurgence of COVID-19, we are prepared to guide the chapter through the resurgence utilizing the latest best practices and information from the CDC or other health authorities. We will keep our houses open and available to our members unless closed by a governmental authority with jurisdiction, but we will provide guidance that helps each member to make their own decisions relating to their personal health.
What happens if someone in the house tests positive for COVID-19?
We encourage anyone who does not feel well to self-isolate and contact a medical professional. If we become aware that a resident has tested positive for COVID-19 we will notify all other residents regarding the potential exposure. Each chapter will have a customized protocol based on their facility and the resources available in their community, but the common elements would be disinfection of the facility, increased social distancing, and monitoring members for additional spread.
Are there any other steps the house corporation is taking to prepare for the fall?
We are taking several additional steps to help our residents. We have made small changes to our facilities that help residents avoid high touch surfaces and allow for convenient personal protective habits such as providing sanitizer stations, and installing foot-pulls on several commonly used doors.
We have also posted signs with a variety of information, ranging from hand washing best practices to cleaning reminders.
Will there be any new/added rules at the house due to COVID-19?
We recommend that the CDC’s guidelines for group living be adhered to as closely as possible. Those guidelines can be found here. We will work with each chapter to figure out exactly what this means for each house.
Will the house be cleaned over the summer?
Our primary task each summer is to repair damage and clean houses so that they are ready for fall move-in. We have reviewed CDC guidelines for cleaning hospital common areas as well as dormitories and multiple occupancy dwellings in order to specify a scope of work for these cleanings. Accordingly, we have allocated the majority of our efforts and resources this summer toward cleaning and disinfecting the houses.
What improvements are being made this summer?
Generally we try to make some small improvements to each facility over the summer. This summer we will repair any damage, but most of the improvements we would otherwise have made will be sidelined in order to ensure that those financial resources go toward additional cleaning.