Students prepare for move out: storage, COVID-19

Fall move out is next week.  Students are permitted to leave campus prior to that time, but all students must leave campus by Saturday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. Belongings are not permitted to remain in the dormitory this year and any student that leaves behind belongings may be subjected to a fine. 

“We will be going through and cleaning the rooms to make sure that they are fresh for when we come back,” said Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students April Thompson. “Students should expect that they will not be able to get their belongings if they are left behind.”

Thompson mentioned that students were informed that belongings left in the dormitories over the break will be disposed of due to the need to sanitize the rooms. 

“Our staff will go in and double check the rooms because sometimes our students leave stuff behind like passports,” Thompson clarified. “We will have a professional staff member going in and contacting the student so that we are not disposing items that people need. There will be a removal fee for any items left behind. This fee depends on the number of belongings that you leave. If you leave a room full of furniture and items that take several hours to remove then that will be a different cost than if you left your passport behind. We will be contacting students before we dispose of (the items).”

The college released a move out checklist on their Instagram account that encouraged students to begin packing their belongings early. 

 Emma Godel, ’21, is a long-distance student from Maine and she advised students to begin packing their belongings prior to Saturday to avoid clustering and potential COVID-19 exposure.

“I have been packing a lot of my belongings,” Godel said. “It is a great idea to pack and ship your stuff in advance … I have never used the storage facilities, but they are a great opportunity for students. I would recommend splitting the cost with someone else and making sure that you have access to the facilities when it is safe to return.”

Thompson encouraged students to apply for Gator Success Grants to assist with the costs associated with the move out process and consider renting a space with another student as well. 

Students in need of transportation to a storage facility can request a Gator approved driver through Residence Life to assist with transporting their belongings. Thompson mentioned that the college may reconsider the option to utilize Zip Cars if needed, but the college will provide regularly sanitized vans to be used for students instead. 

“We are doing everything that we can to make sure that students have access to storage even without cars on campus,” Thompson said. “We have made (Zip Cars) unavailable this semester due to (COVID-19) and our inability to have them cleaned between users. … The vans that we plan to use are on our cleaning schedule. … I feel more confident with the vans just because we can make sure that the (COVID-19) protocols stay in place.”

Students who have yet to select a storage facility have been provided with a list of local facilities and addresses on the Residence Life website. These include Lucy’s Storage, D J Hudson Self Storage, Conneaut Lake Self Storage, Saegertown Self Storage, Meadville Self Storage and Ameri Storage.

In the event of a storage facility shortage, the college can explore other options within the surrounding areas, Thompson said.

For students that need public transportation to get to the airport in Pittsburgh, Godel advised them, especially first-years, to familiarize themselves with the bus schedule. 

“We are at the mercy of the bus schedule,” Godel added. “We cannot control what times that the bus can afford to make round trips from Pittsburgh to the campus.”

Godel will be driving back to Maine instead of flying this year due to concerns about COVID-19, but she would like to be tested before driving home with a family member due to the increase in cases on campus and in Crawford County.

On Friday, Nov. 6, the Allegheny College Health Agency sent an email to the campus community announcing that the college will provide COVID-19 testing to interested students on a case-by-case basis.

“Thank you for your continued vigilance with regard to safety on campus,” the email read. “Thanks to your efforts, we are successfully approaching the end of our in-person semester. As we think about traveling away from campus, we want to discuss doing so as safely as possible. Allegheny will offer limited rapid antigen COVID-19 testing for students on a case-by-case basis on November 19 and 20.”

Students must either be traveling to a region that requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter or the student resides with a “medically vulnerable person” to receive a test. Students who do not qualify, have the opportunity to go to Vernon Express Care in Meadville, Monday–Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students will need their medical insurance card and the results take 3–8 days.

“While we are not able to offer testing to all students as they leave campus, we still want to prioritize the safety and well-being of your family and friends,” ACHA wrote. “ We recommend the following safety precautions: Quarantine for 14 days when you arrive at your destination. … Monitor your symptoms and stay home if you feel ill. When visiting others, keep the visit short. Prolonged exposure increases the chances of passing COVID-19. … Stay outdoors. If you go inside to someone’s house, wash your hands frequently and keep physical distance. … Have a conversation with children to set expectations before the visit. Let them know these rules are important to keep loved ones safe.”

ACHA encouraged students to continue to follow the same safety protocols that they were expected to abide by at the college to ensure their safety and their family’s safety.

“We know that the stress of the global pandemic — along with economic distress, political tensions, and unrest related to ongoing racial and social justice issues — makes this period in all our lives difficult, challenging, and, at times, dark,” ACHA wrote. “We hope that you can continue to find joy in the small things, in seeing friends and family, in taking time for self-care, resting and relaxing. We all look forward to brighter days ahead. And we are already deep into planning for a safe, healthy, enjoyable spring semester to continue the success we have enjoyed this fall as the residential campus community we have been for over 200 years.”