November 26, 2020

Webster dorm residents settle into new normal due to COVID-19

Webster University has implemented protocols and adapted on-campus housing to limit the spread of COVID-19. “When you really sit and think about it, it’s kind of sad, but that’s just life right now,” West Hall resident Vinnie Peters said.

A new academic year at Webster begins as marked by earlier evenings, cooler afternoons and the return of students to university halls and dormitories.

However, the ongoing  COVID-19 pandemic has caused continued change at Webster. Students are required to adhere to the guidelines implemented by the COVID-19 Task Force on Transition and Adaptability such as daily health screenings, building checkpoints, mandatory mask wear and social distancing. 

All on-campus residences are single occupancy and common spaces have been completely rearranged to accommodate for social distancing. Students have even been assigned laundry days and a website to check the status of the machines.

Drew Richardson, Webster freshman and West Hall resident found the move-in to be well-thought out. 

“They did a good job,” he said. “They isolated floor-by-floor… really smooth, I think.”

Webster’s COVID-19 task force has reported two positive cases at the time of publication, according to the COVID-19 Pandemic Resources website. Elsa Frye, Webster University freshman, believes this is because of the university’s precautions.

“I feel like everything is getting handled really well,” Frye said.  

Outbreaks at major universities have made headlines. With Webster having reported two positive cases, it is tied with Fontbonne for least amount of reported positives. Saint Louis University (SLU) has the most in the St. Louis area.

However, SLU has a larger student population that was required to undergo COVID-19 testing prior to returning to campus, which also has on-site testing available for students and staff. The school maintains a publicly accessible interactive COVID-19 dashboard as well. The prospect of a pivot to an online education is also mentioned in the institution’s Fall Safeguards FAQ, although there is no specified criteria for making that decision.

While the current situation at Webster does not necessitate a transition to a virtual environment, there is no official guidance for a move to online instruction similar to last spring’s.

Dorm residents remain positive yet vigilant about the coming semester despite the uncertainty. Vinnie Peters, Webster freshman and West Hall resident, believes the guidelines are helpful.

“I feel safe with the guidelines that are in place,” Peters said. “I come from a pretty rural area where nobody follows the guidelines or wears masks.”

Peters works the reception desk in his dorm and he has noticed a unanimous adherence to easy-to-follow policies: “I think they’re pretty clear, there’s signs everywhere.”

Overall, Peters said he is pleased with the calm and cool reactions from his neighbors.

“I’m surprised how well some people seem to be taking it,” he said. “At the desk I get to see a lot of people coming in and out, and they’re really friendly about it, really cool about it. I’ve noticed though that while it looks like people are doing really well with it, I’ll talk to my friends outside of classes about how anxious this whole situation makes them and how depressing it is that we have to do all this.”

Peters said he can manage these unusual times.

“It’s weird that I’m so used to it I guess,” he said, “because it seems like it should be something that you’ll look back on in two years and go, ‘wow, I can’t believe that happened.’ When you really sit and think about it, it’s kind of sad, but that’s just life right now.”

 Complete COVID-19 guidance for Webster University is available at http://www.webster.edu/covid19/students.html.

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