Image Courtesy of Office of the President of the Catholic University of America
By Anna Harvey
With recent improvements made by The Catholic University of America to their testing methods along with fairly low rates of positive cases on campus, it was no great shock to students that University President John Garvey announced that the University would move to full in-person instruction for the Fall of 2021.
With returning completely to in-person instruction, the University will be preparing for all upperclassmen to return to campus, which will include making preparations within the Housing Department to accommodate upperclassmen who ordinarily lived off campus during the 2020-2021 school year. Garvey stated that students will receive more information in the following weeks on the Fall 2021 Reopening Plan, which will include more information about safety protocol with the increase of students on the campus.
For many students, especially those seeking housing accommodations for the upcoming academic year, many questions still remain, specifically focusing on how students will be housed next year. This spring, upperclassmen and freshmen were confined to single rooms in order to avoid health risks from COVID-19. In addition, the University is currently obligated to follow D.C. coronavirus pandemic safety regulations and guidelines, including a maximum of 50 people per outdoor and large indoor gatherings and 10 people within a single room. Currently, the University allows students one visitor from another residence hall and up to 10 people from the same residence hall in a dorm room.
Initially in Phase I, which lasted the first two weeks of the semester, the University did not allow any visitation, either from outside the residence halls or room-to-room visitation, and campus activities were not held until the initial quarantine period was over. Under Phase II, students could visit dorm common areas such as lounges in the same residence hall, but they could not have visitors in their rooms; in addition, some campus activities opened up. Finally, in Phase III, campus activities opened up completely, following the D.C. guidelines, and visitation between dorms was reinstated.
With an increase in vaccinations and relatively low numbers of active cases for students both on and off campus, more opportunities may arise for housing next year. In addition, with the demolition of Magner Hall and limited resources, by allowing all students to return to campus, students may once again return to having roommates, depending on whether they have a single, double, or triple dorm room.
“Rooms on campus will return to the traditional occupancy intended for the space, so double rooms will have two students, triple rooms will have three students, etc.,” University Housing said. “We will announce which spaces on-campus will be available for freshmen at a later date.”
This decision to allow traditional rooming situations may also be spurred on by the University’s announcement requiring rising juniors to live on campus. Some students remain baffled by the University’s decision to move forward with junior housing accommodations, as many current sophomores have lived off-campus during the Fall and Spring semesters.
“Right now I just feel confused,” rising junior Maureen Pierce said. “There was no warning about the choice to make juniors live on campus and not much support has been given considering this upended a lot of plans. I would really appreciate it if Housing were more clear and honest about this process and tried to be more prepared before they surprised us with this news.”
The question still remains, however, of whether traditional freshman dorms at CUA, such as Regan, Ryan, McDonald, Unanue, and Flather Halls will once again return to freshman occupancy, or if the University may be moving in a new direction with Housing assignments.