NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University is preparing to welcome students back to campus this fall, but the school year will be different thanks to the pandemic.
SFA plans to resume face-to-face classes and full housing and dining options will be available.
However, there will be a major change to campus housing requirements. Typically, incoming freshman or underclassmen with less than 60 credit hours are required to live at an SFA residence hall, However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is lifting that requirement.
“We currently have approximately 3,500 students assigned,” Carrie Charley, Director of Auxiliary Services, wrote in an email. “We recognize that in this time students may be more comfortable not living in a residence hall environment, so we want to be as considerate and as flexible as possible.”
The freshmen housing requirement is one of many changes to prevent the spread of the virus within residence halls.
SFA will have 11 residence halls students can stay at:
- Wisely (Honors)
- Lumberjack Village
- Lumberjack Lodge
- Lumberjack Landing
- Hall 10
- Hall 14
- Hall 16
- Hall 20
Each hall will have its own full-time custodial staff who will work throughout the days and evenings to clean common restrooms and other areas students and staff commonly touch.
There will also be reduced seating in every dorm’s common spaces and limited use of other public areas like kitchens. Students will be provided with hand sanitizer.
“Residence halls are special-purpose buildings and are not open to the general public,” Charley said. “Visitation privileges have been amended to allow no more than two extra people in a room or suite at any given time.”
Students who have requested to live together will be able to do so. SFA says its residence halls are large enough to accommodate physical distancing.
“Rooms range in size from 155 to 700 square feet, the overall average is 210 square feet,” Charley explained. “According to the State’s Office of Risk Management well within acceptable radius for social distancing.”
The university also has single bedrooms, which Charley said the school is working on a waiting list to manage the assignment of the single rooms and the assignment process is ongoing. A plan has also been created if a student were to become sick, with an immediate protocol for isolation, testing and contract tracing.
“In the event that a student tests positive for COVID-19 or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, he or she must immediately notify university officials to determine next steps and assist the university in identifying any others on the campus who may have come in contact with the student," Charley explained. "If the student is required to self-isolate due to possible COVID-19 exposure or a positive test, he or she may be required to temporarily move to a different location during self-isolation until the CDC guidelines for returning to his or her room are met. We have two of our smaller buildings kept off-line and are reserved as isolation quarters for this year.”
Students who believe they may have COVID-19 or are exhibiting symptoms can contact the SFA Health Clinic at 936-468-4008.
There is no deadline to apply for housing. Charley said the university can accommodate requests into and after the start of the semester.