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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA2020 Election Updates

Move-in day on the Hill entails COVID-19 precautions such as testing, isolation

Students moving into housing on the Hill had to deal with many COVID-19 preventative measures, including COVID-19 testing and isolation. (Justin Jung/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Samantha Fredberg

Sept. 25, 2020 4:11 p.m.

Instead of celebrating welcome week with family and friends, Bruins wore masks and greeted each other from 6 feet apart as they hauled their carts of belongings into their dorms alone.

Students living on the Hill this fall experienced an unusual move-in day as they faced a number of COVID-19 preventative measures.

After arriving at a parking lot on the Hill, incoming residents walked up Covel Commons to the Covel Commons Grand Horizon Ballroom for a mandatory self-administered nasal swab COVID-19 test. Following their test, students moved outside to activate their BruinCards as room keys.

Family and guests were not allowed to enter the testing facility or residential buildings, so many students had to move their belongings in alone.

“The only thing I wanted was for my parents to help me move in,” said James Hankee, a first-year physiological science student. “Obviously I can’t do that under these conditions.”

On-campus housing is limited to about 700 students because of local public health guidelines. UCLA Housing also limited dorms to single-occupancy rooms and university apartments to double-occupancy rooms. Housing was only offered to students without a safe alternative, some students with in-person classes and some athletes.

Once students move in, they will have to isolate in their rooms until they receive their COVID-19 test results from UCLA Housing. If they test negative, students will enter a period of group isolation in which they can interact with a group of students living on their floor while maintaining physical distance and wearing masks. If a student tests positive, they will have to stay in isolation until they test negative.

Although several students said they felt safe from risk of infection, some expressed concern over the isolation period.

“I think the safety procedures they have are pretty decent, but it just seems like it would be tough to live in a place where you can’t have contact with other people,” said Steph Mach, a first-year undeclared engineering student.

Several students and parents said they feel safe on the Hill regarding COVID-19 safety.

I haven’t seen anything bad in terms of social distancing or (COVID-19), so that’s great,” said Adishakti Lukic, a third-year psychology student. “I’m just super excited to be on campus.”

Francisco Ramirez, who waited at the Sunset Village Parking Lot to drop off his first-year granddaughter, said he was happy his granddaughter got a housing offer because there wasn’t space for her at home to live and study.

Jennifer Zaninobich, an incoming first-year student’s legal guardian, said she felt safe dropping off her student and is excited for her to live on campus.

“At this point, we’re just glad she’s here,” Zaninobich said. “The cost is what it is, and we’re excited that it worked out.”

All single-occupancy rooms on the Hill cost $12,332.52 for the full academic year, excluding the cost of a meal plan. With a meal plan, housing will cost at least $17,000.

UCLA can punish students with suspension, expulsion or exclusion from university housing if they violate UCLA’s public health guidelines, which include requirements to complete daily symptom surveys and maintain social distancing. UCLA will consider whether students have alternative housing options when they make decisions to exclude students from housing, UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in an emailed statement.

Enyi Nwameo, an uncle of a third-year student, said he trusts his niece and other students to follow the rules.

“She’s been at home long enough to learn good habits when it comes to being isolated, washing your hands, wearing a mask and risk-taking,” he said. “(Students) just need to understand what’s considered risky behavior and what’s considered smart.”

Students can leave group isolation once they receive a second negative COVID-19 test result. If students test positive for COVID-19 at any point, they will remain in or return to self-isolation.

Mursal Sidiqi, a third-year English transfer student, said UCLA Housing has worked to keep students safe without ignoring their social needs.

“I’m nervous, of course, because of (COVID-19), and it’s a bummer that I can’t do anything, but I’m glad that we’re staying safe,” Sidiqi said. That’s the number one thing. I’m glad that we still get to do little things within our community, and that’s nice.”

Fall quarter instruction begins Thursday.

Contributing reports by Justin Jung and Naveed Pour, Daily Bruin staff.

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