New pandemic move-in process going smoothly for Flagler College students

Administrator says parents, students like process enough to bring it back next year

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Move-in for college students looks different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday was the second day of move-in at Flagler College in St. Augustine. By the end of the day Sunday, more than 1,000 students will have moved-in on campus.

When families arrive, there is a check-in process, including several screening questions and a temperature check. Students must have completed and signed the Saints Health Pledge online to ensure everyone is practicing health safety.

Flagler College said it has developed a framework for a safe re-opening amid the pandemic.

It’s operating on a COVID-19 status level three at high alert. According to its website, there’s reduced capacity inside dorms, ready-to-go meals are available and when social distancing isn’t an option in a classroom, a hybrid model could be used.

Instead of one move-in day like previous years, Flagler students are moving in over the course of three days in two-hour blocks.

“When the students check in and they have their two hours, after that parents are no longer in, so we don’t clog up the stairwells and elevators,” said Dr. Sandra Miles, vice president of student affairs. “Were able to guarantee that there’s a small number of people so we don’t violate CDC guidelines with overcapacity.”

Miles said Flagler has developed the Saints Health Plus App in partnership with Flagler Hospital for students and staff to self-report that they are not experiencing any symptoms. This is required daily and if students do not complete it, they will receive a call from the dean’s office.

“I think there was one other person moving in when we were moving in. It was pretty quiet,” said Faryn Heffner, a freshman. “I’m glad that they’re spacing it out and taking the time with everything.”

Students and parents said the school has been keeping them up to date and they feel comfortable with the process.

“We didn’t feel crammed outside of the room. It was just we had two children moving in boxes, but it was very organized,” said Lisette Rodriguez, a parent.

Flagler tweeted new guidelines out, which said hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes will be available in classrooms. It also created a new sanitation and disinfection policy to slow the spread of the virus.

“So many people are excited with the way the process is working that they are encouraging us to do it this way every year,” said Miles. “It’s allowing for families to have a lot more one-on-one time with their student before they depart.”

The school said if there is a reported positive case, there are quarantine and isolation rooms on campus.

The city of St. Augustine says during move-in, no streets will be shut down this year. But there will be more walkers and car activity this weekend.

As colleges begin to re-open, there have been COVID-19 outbreaks in at least 19 states. Students are required to get tested for the virus prior to settling into their dorm rooms.

RELATED: Florida universities set to reopen amid pandemic

Florida State University reported 42 students and five employees tested positive for the virus during the first two weeks of August. FSU tested 3,222 students during the move-in process.

According to the University of Central Florida, since Aug. 15, 76 students tested positive during move-in. In total there are 359 student positive tests and 114 self-reported faculty and staff positive tests.

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