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Move-in Option ‘Sets’ New Tone

Resident Life Introduces ‘Set Up and Go’ to Families for Maximized Physical Distancing

By Sala Levin ’10

Masked student and mom wheel yellow cart of belongings up to dorm building door

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

Freshman Alexis James, left, and her mother, Talana, bring Alexis' belongings to Elkton Hall yesterday during "set up and go" move-in.

Move-in—usually a frenzy of kinetic yellow carts, mini-fridge maneuvering and debates with a new roommate over the ideal placement of a video-gaming monitor—already looks very different this fall.

To ensure families and staffers can physically distance and meet other health and safety guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Resident Life is offering a new “set up and go” option for students living in residence halls, which began this week. Students arrive by appointment to check in at the Xfinity Center, where they pick up their room keys, welcome package and student ID before heading to their residence hall to unpack. Then, they'll return home before coming back to campus to move in for the semester between Aug. 26 and 30.

“Given the challenges of COVID-19, we quickly recognized that we needed to change our move-in operations,” said Tracy Kiras, assistant director for communications and marketing for the Department of Resident Life. “We decided to centralize and extend check-in,” which spans over two weeks to ensure more physical distancing and to effectively utilize personnel and resources, said Kiras.

Yesterday, 232 students—the vast majority of whom will be living in single rooms—came through the sparsely populated Xfinity Center. For some new Terps, the home of Maryland Athletics, lined with photos and memorabilia from monumental games, represented their first-ever stop on campus. Pop songs played in the arena as one or two students at a time stopped at tables to gather their haul, which included face coverings, a thermometer, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and a reusable bag from Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability. Students also got a biometric scan of their hand to allow entry into dining halls, and a Dining Services dietician was on hand to talk with students about allergy-related and other dietary restrictions. 

Inside the residence halls, students carrying their boxes and suitcases found signs at doorways, in hallways and restrooms, and outside elevators reminding students to practice healthy behaviors “4 Maryland,” including wearing a face covering, washing their hands frequently and staying at least 6 feet from others.

The traditional move-in option is still available and primarily intended for students who live far enough from campus that an additional trip would be a hardship. Of the more than 3,300 students who have signed up for one of the two options, nearly 2,100 chose “set up and go,” according to Kiras.

Lucas Janniche ’23, who arrived to set up his Oakland Hall room, said the process was “very quick and went smoothly.” Janniche, a mechanical engineering major, said he was looking forward to fewer distractions in a residence hall than at home, a feeling echoed by other students as well. “I need my own little space to work, and I don’t have that at home,” said Jayden Brittain ’24 as he packed up a cart outside Cumberland Hall, where, with just one other student moving in at the same time, the scene was notably subdued.

An ability to focus better wasn’t all that excited Brittain about his first year of college. The highlight he was most anticipating? “I’m hoping to eat ramen and see what that’s like,” he said. “College and ramen, I feel like that’s a big thing.” 

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