Updates to Policies and Procedures for Residence Halls

Written by James Willette, Ph.D.
March 31, 2020

Dear Seattle University Residential Students:

I hope this message finds you well and taking good care of your health and wellness.  I write this afternoon with updates for residential students who will be physically present in the residence halls from now through the end of Spring Quarter 2020.  The university received updated guidance from Public Health of Seattle & King County for student housing at higher education institutions and I believe it is important for you to be aware of this guidance and to know what policies and procedures the university will implement in order to promote the health and safety of the Seattle University community.

The complete “Information on COVID-19 for Student Housing at Higher Education Institutions” document is attached for your reference.  Seattle University has already implemented many of the agency’s recommendations; however, the updated guidance has led us to take additional precautionary measures as we continue to confront this unprecedented challenge.  While this message will not address every recommendation described in the guidance, I want to emphasize the following updates:

Policy Change Regarding Visitors & Guests in Residence Halls

Based on the updated guidance and our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, visitors and guests are prohibited in university owned/leased/managed residence halls at all times.  This includes non-affiliate visitors/guests, other SU students who live off-campus, as well as visitors/guests from other residence halls.  The prohibition on all visitors/guests applies to all resident rooms/apartments, lobbies, lounges, and other common areas of the residence halls. 

Note: Residents who will not be living on campus in Spring Quarter but will be returning after the stay-at-home order is lifted in order to retrieve their belongings are advised to limit their movement in the building, should not visit other residents’ rooms/apartments, and should not return to campus if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.

This policy change goes into effect on March 31, 2020 and will remain in effect through Spring Quarter 2020 unless you are otherwise notified. 

We are now living in a season of increased isolation, but we are in this together.  I encourage residents to continue to connect with family and friends by phone and/or virtually and to reach out to my office if I can help connect you with resources for connection and support. 

De-Densification & Required Residence Hall Moves

In an effort to promote social distancing and to help residents avoid close contact with one another, Housing & Residence Life will begin to reassign many residents who have been granted an exception to live on campus during Spring Quarter 2020 over the next few weeks.  We will endeavor to move residents into single spaces in a defined area of campus as consistently as possible and on a space available basis.  Housing & Residence Life will communicate the de-densification plan and room cleaning schedule over the coming days and will communicate with residents who will be required to move on a case-by-case basis. 

Notice to High Risk Students

With widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the Seattle/King County area we should assume anyone with whom we come into contact could be infected. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms or no symptoms at all, but some people with underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk of severe illness. Some of these high risk conditions include: 

  • Asthma, moderate to severe, or other chronic lung disease;
  • Heart disease with complications;
  • Compromised immune system: Prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune-weakening medications; undergoing cancer treatment; poorly controlled HIV or AIDS; other immune deficiencies.
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40);
  • Chronic medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease;
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk of severe viral illness, however, to date, data on COVID-19 has not shown an increased risk>

Anyone who identifies themselves in these higher risk categories should strongly consider not staying on campus. If you are a student who needs to live on campus, then it is important for you to be located in a single room with your own bathroom and kitchen. If that is not your current housing situation, please notify the Student Health Center and they can share your need for a private room without sharing any details of your health history with Housing & Residence Life.  The Student Health Center can be notified by email at studenthealthcenter@seattleu.edu or by phone at 206-296-6245. 

Increased Student Self-Monitoring & Prevention Responsibilities

We ask that all students who remain on campus engage in daily self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 and to inform the university if they are experiencing any symptoms so that we may assist where possible. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4°F or above, cough [not chronic], and shortness of breath), or are awaiting or have received a COVID-19 test result) please send a self-report sent to Covid-19-Report@seattleu.edu.  

Prevention

You should also continue taking proactive steps to prevent the spread of illness:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If hand washing facilities are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content;
  • Keep your germs to yourself: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, then throw out the used tissue; avoid sharing personal items like drinking glasses, eating utensils, and towels with other people;
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep and don’t forget to exercise.
  • Stay Home! With the Stay Home – Stay Healthy order from Gov. Jay Inslee, everyone, even those who are young and healthy, must stay home to slow the spread of this virus. You should: stay at home and avoid all non-essential contact with others; limit trips for groceries, gas and other essentials only; if you must go out, stay at least 6 feet away from others at all times. 

Wellness & Health Promotion will be sending a letter to all students within the next week with information and recommendations for staying healthy and active in Spring Quarter 2020. 

Social Distancing Responsibilities

As described in the attached guidance, social distancing is the most important thing we can do to fight the pandemic:

  • Do not gather in lobbies, lounges, corridors, or other common areas;
  • Students should not enter another student’s building, hall, housing unit, or bedroom. Remember that visitors/guests are now prohibited at all times;
  • Use cell phones and online video conferencing to stay in touch with your residential community;
  • Keep moving:  walk, run, roll, bike, or engage in other outdoor activities while maintaining a six-foot distance from one another.

Limited Campus Services

Residential students who are here on campus during the stay-at-home order should expect limited campus and residence hall services during this time.  Facilities Services will continue to frequently clean and disinfect common areas and high-touch surfaces across campus. Housing & Residence Life has posted contact information at each residence hall desk and sent an email with this contact information to all residential students last week. While staff are available to assist with lockouts and emergencies, they continue to operate following social distancing recommendations at all times. Residents can also call the Department of Public Safety for assistance at any time by calling (206) 296-5990 (non-emergencies) or (206) 296-5911 (emergencies).

If you have any questions about the information in this letter, please reply to this email and I will either personally respond or forward your question to the relevant department.  For up-to-date information about the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.seattleu.edu/coronavirus

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

 

James Willette, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President & Dean of Students

Note: This letter was sent via email to all residential students (with the exception of those living in Douglas & Vi Hilbert) on March 31, 2020.