Planning housing changes related to COVID-19.
Brevard College is committed to the safety, health, and well-being of its students and other members of its community. As Brevard College works to confront the unprecedented challenges and risks presented by COVID-19, including those within its campus's residential living environments, the College is following recommendations and guidance issued by county, state, and federal authorities and agencies, including the North Carolina Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What have colleges/universities been considering with regard to housing?
A portion of the COVID-19 guidance colleges and universities have been receiving concerns modifying student housing for the upcoming academic year. Institutions across the country have therefore been considering and implementing a range of housing policies and changes on their campuses. Some of the more significant changes being implemented on campuses include:
- Not offering any student housing this coming academic year
- Outsourcing housing and requiring students to work with property management companies to procure any housing that may be available
- Offering limited housing by restricting hall capacity (such as by 50%)
- Housing students by cohorts based on their involvements and affiliations
- Offering limited housing to certain populations (only to first year students, for example)
Cohort Housing Information:
Brevard College will implement cohort housing, among other policies.
Brevard College has been and will be implementing a number of COVID-19-related policies and measures campus-wide. Among the most significant changes related to residence life, Brevard College has decided to implement cohort housing. The College will do so in a manner that is consistent with public health guidance and tailored to our campus's size. As noted above, cohort housing involves placing students together based on shared involvements and affiliations. Examples include placing students together from the same athletic team or area of academic focus.
What is the purpose of cohort housing?
The purpose of cohort housing is to place students together with others with whom they will have a great deal of potential exposure during the academic year. Along with various other policies and measures, cohort housing supports campus safety and well-being by reducing the risk of COVID19 spreading among students and allowing the College to anticipate, isolate, and address instances of possible spreading within smaller groups.
How will cohorts be created?
The largest cohort groups on Brevard College's campus are student athletic teams. Students on athletic teams will be regularly meeting, practicing, working out, traveling, and competing together. Due to the high level of interaction within athletic teams, the cohort placement process will first involve housing student athletic teams and teammates together.
Based on housing availability and layouts, other cohort groups will then be created where possible and appropriate. In some cases, students with mixed affiliations may be placed together if available housing space cannot serve the size of a meaningful cohort or if building a specific cohort would not significantly serve the underlying purposes of cohort housing.
What will happen with my requested roommate/suitemate/room?
Through the cohort housing process, the Housing Department will preserve as many roommate pairings as possible, provided the roommate pairings fall within specific, easily characterized cohorts. Additionally, students placed in Green Hall private rooms and in single rooms for qualifying accommodation needs will retain their placements.
Students will otherwise be placed into cohorts based on the Housing Department's access to student involvement and affiliation information. Cohort groups will then be placed into residence halls based on building configurations and cohort sizes. Many building/room assignments will be subject to change as a result, and some students may not receive their preferred roommate, suitemates, or hallmates.
For example, dual sport student athletes would be placed together (two students participating in both football and track) before a single sport student athlete (football) would be placed with a dual sport student athlete (football and track).
As another example, if a non-student-athlete Criminal Justice major originally selected a student athlete (lacrosse) roommate, the student athlete would be reassigned to the appropriate athletic cohort (lacrosse), and the Criminal Justice major would be reassigned with another Criminal Justice major, if possible, or else with another separated candidate.
Challenges of Cohort Housing:
The decision to house students by cohorts was a difficult but necessary choice to make. It was difficult, because Brevard College recognizes that cohort housing will be a significant change for campus that will significantly impact its students. Significant housing changes will undoubtedly create feelings of stress and uncertainty for many students -- particularly for some of the College's returning students.
However, Brevard College also recognizes that the need to support the health and safety of our students is paramount. To that end, Brevard College must follow the recommendations and guidance of public health authorities. Cohort housing will enable Brevard College to continue providing a residential experience for the majority of its students as opposed to adopting options that would displace much of the College's residential student population.
Responding to the challenges of cohort housing.
Due to anticipated stress surrounding the cohort housing change, Brevard College's Housing and Residence Life Department will be making every effort to preserve as many roommate pairings as reasonably possible during the reassignment process, provided the pairings fit within its cohort planning.
Additionally, Housing and Residence Life will work to get new residential assignments posted online within the next seven to ten days, so that students have the information they need about their new housing to plan accordingly. Once posted, their housing information will be viewable within My.Brevard.Edu (Students > My Housing Information > My Residence Information).
Placements will remain subject to change, as the College works through various needs and continues to adapt to public and campus strategies related to COVID-19. However, because of the interdependent nature of placements, housing changes will be extraordinarily difficult to make, and requests will not be possible to accommodate in nearly every case, unfortunately.
Housing and Residence Life (Housing@brevard.edu) will certainly attempt to work through any change requests that raise very specific concerns relating to objectively severe or crisis situations. However, Brevard College does not anticipate being able to modify placements related strictly to preference, inconvenience, or incompatibility, or because they are anticipated to create or are actually creating some amount of concern or stress.
Instead, the College anticipates dedicating additional support services for students within residence life, including mediation support to help facilitate communication among students and help them work through conflicts. Where Faculty and/or Staff members are closely affiliated with a given cohort, Housing and Residence Life will also collaborate with these individuals to provide leadership and support to our residential students.
Placements subject to change:
As mentioned above -- though Brevard College may post housing placements to My.Brevard.Edu in the near future, the placements will remain subject to change. Changes are possible, for example, because Housing and Residence Life may have to swap two individuals between rooms to resolve a cohort discrepancy or a placement that raised a crisis situation. These sorts of swaps may result in students receiving new roommate assignments up until the semester commences.
Placements are also subject to change, because information about the pandemic is evolving. Brevard College's strategies for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting its students from exposure must similarly evolve as new information becomes available. Brevard College may therefore be required to adopt additional guidelines and modify individual or group living arrangements as necessary for reasons beyond its control.
Private room availability.
Brevard College has assigned all available private rooms at this time. A select number of single rooms remain reserved for qualifying disability accommodation needs and housing emergencies during the academic year.
Other housing policies and measures under review:
Though cohort housing is among the most significant changes being implemented on campus, many other policies and measures will be adopted or are under consideration within Housing and Residence Life. Some examples specific to campus housing include:
- Mask/face covering policies
- Limiting area capacity to facilitate social distancing
- Limiting scope of personal belongings brought to campus
- Modifying traffic flow
- Enhancing cleaning measures
- Moving non-essential facilities to offline status
- Supplementing hand sanitizer stations
- Adding physical barriers in select locations
- Revising visitation policy
- Revising room change policy
- Reserving separate quarantine housing for exposed students
- These are just a few examples within a single area of campus operations. Many campus-wide policies and measures will be adopted and announced or posted within the next few weeks.