COVID prompts precautions for Residential Life


A student walking the Westerlyn Halls on Friday September 4, 2020. Photo by Lauren Pillion.

Natalie McMillan

Reporting by Natalie McMillan and Aubrey Lathrop
With the first week of classes done, students on campus have also had the time to take in all the changes to their daily routines due to the COVID. These changes are everywhere, from temperature checks each morning to following designated arrows on the floor to direct traffic flow. In many ways, residential life on campus has changed too.
Dorm halls are known for the experience of being in close quarters with other students. In an effort to make this safe, masking rules apply to all areas outside a student’s own dorm and visitation restrictions are in place. “No family members, no friends from high school and if you’re going to have a visitor who is an Augustana student, it’s limited to one person per room with the approval of the roommate,” Chris Beyer, director of Residential Life, said.
Amanda Tumbarello, the area coordinator for the first-year experience, explained that if any students have concerns about policy violations, COVID related or not, they can get in touch with a CA on call.
“Each residential area has a CA on call every evening, and our CAs have been trained to help to address those problems. If it’s outside of the time period, where CAs are on call, Public Safety’s always on call 24 seven. You can always call them, even if a CA is on call. Public Safety can also help address that,” Tumbarello said.
There was a stir on campus, with people taking to social media to discuss parties in the Westerlin residence hall on the evening of August 29th. “We got one phone call around 11:15 that night to Public Safety. I know they quickly sent Public Safety officers and our CA’s, who were on duty that night, and they walked the buildings and found nothing,” Beyer said. “So maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t, but I would say that it’s unsubstantiated”. There were no St. Ambrose students found in the dorm hall.
The Office of Residential Life has measures in place for different COVID offenses.
Minor violations, such as not wearing a mask, have several strikes until punishment is seen.
More major violations, like the suspected party, will have more severe consequences. “Students should anticipate what we’re calling interim measures or interim action. And that interim action would occur prior to the student conduct process running its course as it would have pre-COVID,” Wes Brooks, Dean of Student Life, said. Depending on the severity of the violation, this can include actions that range from loss of participation in activities to suspension while the situation is being evaluated.
Along with establishing visitation restrictions and requiring masks and distancing, Residential Life is taking steps to keep their CAs safe as well. “The CAs are wearing face masks in the building, just like any other student is. We also have talked about how we can modify some of our procedures to address situations by encouraging social distancing procedures,” Tumbarello said.
In a case where a student tests positive for COVID-19, the first step is to notify Public Safety. Next the contact tracing team will be notified. “Our hope is that, more often than not, students will be able to travel home during that 14-day quarantine. But that would certainly depend on how they’re actually feeling, if they have transportation available to them, we wouldn’t ask them to travel long distances,” Brooks said. Quarantine housing is available on campus to students unable to quarantine at home.
A student walking the Westerlin Halls on Friday September 4, 2020. Photo by Lauren Pillion.